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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > Winter-Like Weather in March will Elevate Flood Potential

Winter-Like Weather in March will Elevate Flood Potential


March 3, 2005


AUGUSTA, MAINE — Although hydrologic conditions are largely in the normal range for the time of year, the potential for flooding will be elevated later in the month because of the current cold temperatures. The River Flow Advisory Commission, meeting today in Augusta, reviewed information on snow pack, stream flows, reservoir storages, ice conditions and weather forecasts.

Snow pack across the state is in the normal range for the time of year, with some pockets in the state showing slightly below or above normal. Snow measurements look not only at the depth but also the water content of the snow. Flows in Maine’s rivers and streams, ground water levels and reservoir storages are also in the normal range. Short-term weather forecasts show below average temperatures for the next two weeks, which will “freeze” the current conditions in place, carrying existing snowpack and river ice later into the spring. In addition, more snow may fall during this period. These factors will elevate flood potential later in the month.

“The later in the spring we carry significant snowpack and river ice, the greater the risk of sudden warm-up and rain storms.” said Art Cleaves, Director of Maine Emergency Management Agency and co-chair of the Commission. “We will be watching these conditions closely over the next several weeks. We also urge emergency managers to monitor local conditions, and make sure citizens and businesses are aware of local flood potential.”

“Flooding in Maine can occur at any time when too much rain falls in the wrong places,” said Bob Lent, District Chief of the USGS and Commission co-chair. “In the spring we have 4 additional risk factors: the snowpack, frozen ground, dormant vegetation, and river ice. Because of the cold weather we are experiencing, it appears all those risk factors will carry forward longer than usual.”

The US Coast Guard will begin ice-breaking operations in the lower Kennebec River next week between the 15th and the 18th of March.

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 Commission also agreed that the number one public safety concern in flooding situations is people driving through flooded roadways. The number one cause of flooding deaths nationwide is from vehicles caught in flood waters. All drivers should respect emergency barricades in flooding situations, and take alternate routes to avoid flooded roadways.

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 3 meeting is available on the Internet at Because of the “delayed spring” Maine is experiencing, the Commission will meet again on March 24th to review current conditions at that time.




Last update: 07/20/10