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Flood Potential Near Normal Despite Lack of Snow

 

March 2, 2006

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Flood Potential Near Normal Despite Lack of Snow

AUGUSTA, MAINE — Despite historically low snow pack in all but far northern Maine, the potential for spring flooding remains near normal across the State. The River Flow Advisory Commission, meeting today in Augusta, reviewed information on snow pack, stream flows, reservoir storages, ice conditions and weather forecasts.

The current flood potential is a factor of stream flows, ground water and reservoir storages at historic highs. “Our stream flows are extremely high for the time of year, “ said Bob Lent, District Chief of the USGS and co-chair of the Commission. “Reservoir storages are also historically high, and wetlands and low-lying areas are full. Basically, all the water that is usually in the snow is in our lakes and rivers and saturating the ground. We are seeing the results of the wettest year on record in Maine.”

“Aroostook County is still a concern, where there is a lot of snow and ice.” said Art Cleaves, Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency and Commission co-chair. “In the rest of the State, we have less of a risk from snowmelt and ice jams. But flooding in Maine is a factor of rainfall, and our rivers and lakes are already full. We will be watching these conditions very closely in the weeks ahead.”

Snow pack across the state is well below the normal range for the time of year, with the exception of far northern Maine where the water content in the snow is in the normal range, with pockets above normal.

The potential for ice jam flooding is above normal in northern Maine, especially in Aroostook County. The St. John and Aroostook Rivers are still under significant ice cover. The risk of ice jam flooding is lower than normal in central to southern Maine, as the amount and thickness of river ice is much less than normal. For the first time in a number of years, ice-breaking in the lower Kennebec River will not be needed, although Commission noted that a small “freeze-up” ice jam in Augusta caused river levels to rise suddenly this week.

Cleaves also noted Mainers should check on their insurance coverage. “Homeowners’, business owners’ and renters’ policies do not cover flood damage. Flood insurance must be purchased separately. There is a 30-day waiting period before a purchased flood insurance policy goes into effect. “

The River Flow Advisory Commission meets annually in late winter to share information, examine potential for spring flooding and to renew operational protocols. The Commission is composed of state, federal and industry representatives with an interest in hydrologic issues. The full report of the March 2 meeting is available on the Internet at http://www.maine.gov/rfac

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Last update: 07/20/10