Weathering the Storm(s) on Casco Bay

We’ve all heard someone say, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change” when talking about Maine.  And this statement never rings more true than during the winter months.

For Portlanders, that rapid swing in weather can be attributed to the wide-blue expanse on the far side of Commercial Street – the Atlantic Ocean.

We sit in what meteorologists like to call a coastal weather zone, meaning that temperatures and precipitation are tempered by the ocean, so we get lower summer and higher winter temperatures. But that doesn’t mean that we’re immune to old man winter’s icy grip.

Each year Portland averages about 62 inches of snow and our average temperatures hover around the freezing mark from about December to mid-March.

Already this year we’ve survived some whopping snowstorms and a January cold-snap that threatened to freeze our faces. Good thing the cabins are heated and we Mainers are made of hearty stock. And while we’ve enjoyed a brief January thaw, we’re pretty sure Jack Frost isn’t even close to being done with us yet (fingers crossed Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring!).

When a storm is forecasted, a lot of people reach out to ask us if we plan to keep running. Generally, the answer is almost always yes! There is no “magic number” wind speed at which we cancel service.  And our island communities depend on us to get them to work and school.  So we approach every storm with our game face on.

That being said, in major weather events, safety is the name of the game. And the Coast Guard has the ability to shut down the harbor or deem the conditions unsafe for operations.

So, what does all of this mean for our passengers? Because we make operations decisions on an hour-by-hour basis during stormy weather, it’s important to follow our Facebook page and sign up for our email list and text alerts. If you see nothing posted on the website or Facebook and have not received a text alert, you can safely assume we are running on time and on schedule. And if something does happen to change, we let you know across all of these channels as soon as possible.

On the bright side, there are less than 60 days until the first day of spring, and soon enough we’ll be basking in the glow of summer’s sunshine.

Stay warm everyone!