Maine River Flow Advisory Commission Meets in Augusta: Flood Risk Low, Drought Conditions Improved
March 9, 2017
AUGUSTA, MAINE —The State’s River Flow Advisory Commission met today in Augusta to discuss ice conditions across the state, flood risks and the ongoing drought.
“It’s mostly encouraging news today,” said Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Bruce Fitzgerald. “There are only a couple of ice jams, which we will be watching closely, but we have no major concerns for flooding.”
Many of Maine’s rivers, including the Penobscot and Kennebec are open due in part to the Coast Guard’s Ice Breaking Mission as well as recent warmer temperatures. The Carrabasset River and Sandy Rivers did experience ice jams, which are now freezing and will be monitored for problems.
Representatives from the National Weather Service stated that overall the snow season brought warmer temperatures and more snow than normal. The six to ten day forecast calls for some colder than normal temperatures and higher than normal levels of precipitation. National Weather Service data showed that Maine experienced the tenth warmest winter on record.
The drought has improved significantly during the winter, with only York County remaining in severe to moderate drought and 12 counties, at least in part, considered abnormally dry.
“We received more snow than normal which may have recharged some groundwater, which is what we were hoping would happen,” said Fitzgerald.
Higher than normal levels of precipitation combined with a slow, gradual melt would be ideal conditions for eliminating the drought, according to a U.S. Geological Survey representative.
“Stream flow levels for February were normal to high,” said Nicholas Stasulis, Data Section Chief, U.S. Geological Survey. “As far as groundwater, we still have some wells that are low to very low for the month of February.”
With the recent warm temperatures combined with periods of cold temperatures, the public is urged to use extreme caution before going onto the ice. Many rivers were reported to have poor ice conditions, meaning there was a high amount of snow and slush in the ice, which is not as solid as black ice. Many rivers that do still contain ice have open areas.
The River Flow Advisory Commission is not expected to meet again unless conditions warrant. The report will be available online at www.maine.gov/mema or can be obtained from MEMA by calling 207-624-4400.