United States

Mainers Prepare for Hottest Days in Years

Maine is bracing for a blowtorch.

Inland temperatures are expected to spike to around 95 degrees in a state well known as a place to escape heat.

Humidity could drive feels-like temperatures to over 100 degrees.

In Portland, a high in the mid-90s would be the hottest since 2016, which is why officials across Maine are preparing to open cooling centers as far north as Presque Isle, where many people don't have air conditioning in their homes.

Emergency management staff up there expect some people to spend at least part of the day in their basements.

Hundreds of miles to the south, Portland city spokeswoman, Jess Grondin, says the city library will function as a cooling center, and has backup air conditioning ready in case of a failure.

"They want to make sure they're prepared," she said. "We certainly encourage people to go there if they need to cool off."

The city also recommends the splash pad in Deering Oaks Park as a place to take kids if temperatures at home get too hot.

Across town at Maine Medical Center, Dr. Michael Baumann says hospital staff will be ready to treat any heat-related illnesses or emergencies, which he says become more likely in high heat, and especially high humidity as is expected this weekend.

"People become overheated quickly, especially if they over-exert themselves," said Baumann. "Heat stroke, dehydration, exhaustion are all risk factors for temperatures like we’re going to experience."

The best way to combat those, per Baumann, are staying in the shade, drinking fluids or jumping in a pond, lake or the ocean.

"Oceans or lakes are usually much cooler and can take that heat off our body," he said.

But getting to one of those Maine bodies of water on Saturday could be slow-going, at least by train.

The Amtrak Downeaster anticipates delays due to rails expanding in high heat.

When that happens, the freight railroad that owns the line to Maine reduces speeds to 40 mph, so engineers have more time to see kinks that could form in the steel and cause an accident.

Still, Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, does not expect any full train cancellations.

Any passengers who do not wish to take the train delayed by 40 minutes to an hour can ask for a refund from Amtrak, as long as it's done in advance.

"They can get their refund and reprogram for another day," she said.

Overall, outside of cancelled races at Scarborough Downs, most Mainers say they have a plan to beat Saturday's heat and humidity.

Tourists from out of town, especially from the Southern U.S., say they say should no issue.

"If it gets to be 95, I'll feel like I'm at home," said a South Carolina man, spending Friday at Portland's East End Beach.

Contact Us