Thoughts of a white Christmas were put on hold Tuesday as December arrived with temperatures approaching 60 degrees in the southern part of Maine while eastern and northern areas of the state saw the mercury rise into the 40s and low 50s.
The mercury actually topped out at 58 degrees in Portland — 18 degrees above normal — before gusty winds kept the temperature from approaching the record of 62 degrees for the day, the National Weather Service said.
The warmth continued a trend of mild weather dating to before Thanksgiving in Maine, causing elation for some, worries for others.
Some people were wearing short pants as they shopped for Christmas trees. In the mountains, ski resorts struggled to keep trails open. And parkas and mittens became a harder sell than they would be otherwise.
In Kennebunk, Diane Holmes had Christmas music going as people cut down trees on her farm. But she said she would have felt a little more festive if the temperature was more seasonal.
“It certainly makes life easier for us. Our guys aren’t out there in a rainstorm or a blizzard. But I personally would like to see a little snow because it adds to the ambience,” Holmes said.
Meteorologist John Cannon said the string of mild weather has lasted a couple of weeks. And it’s expected to continue.
The last time the daytime high in Portland failed to reach at least 40 degrees was Nov. 17, Cannon said. Since then, it has been warmer than normal every day, he said.
Ski resorts used snow-making equipment to open early but the lack of natural snow forced Sunday River and Sugarloaf/USA to close three trails apiece, officials said.
For L.L. Bean, the warm weather was believed to be the cause for delayed purchases of mittens, polar fleece and other Christmas gifts, said spokeswoman Jolene McGowan.
“Our strength is in the Northeast. When it’s warm, it absolutely has an effect,” she said.
Likewise, snow blowers weren’t exactly blowing out of stores for Christmas presents at Sears.
“They are buying some but you don’t sell what you do if you have snow on the ground or a storm looming,” said Dick Grimes, store manager at the Maine Mall in South Portland.