Flood Potential Normal Thanks to Approaching Storm


March 1, 2007

3:30 PM


AUGUSTA, MAINE — An approaching winter storm will bring flood potential indicators back into the normal range after an abnormally warm and snowless early winter, according to the River Flow Advisory Commission. The Commission, meeting today in Augusta, reviewed information on snow pack, stream flows, reservoir storages, ice conditions and weather forecasts.

“The National Weather Service offices in Maine have designated today as Flood Awareness Day, but will be busy with a winter storm instead,” said Bob Lent, District Chief of the USGS and co-chair of the Commission ”Ironically, that same storm will move flood potential to where it usually is this time of year. So today is the day we start our intensive monitoring of spring flood potential.”

Snow pack across the state is below normal for the time of year over much of the state, with some pockets in southern and downeast Maine at the low end of normal. However, the winter storm predicted for Friday may add up to two inches of water content in some headwaters areas. Water content is a critical component of snowpack measurement.

Flows in Maine’s rivers and streams are in the normal range. Ground water and reservoir storage levels are above normal, thanks to the abnormally wet conditions in 2006. Ice thickness in Maine rivers has increased dramatically in February. The abnormal cold created between a foot and two feet of hard black ice in many areas that had no ice after January’s abnormal warmth.

Short-term weather forecasts show below average temperatures for the next two weeks, which will “freeze” the current conditions in place, carrying existing snowpack, additional snow and river ice later into the spring. These factors could elevate flood potential later in the month, so will be closely monitored.

“The later in the spring we carry snowpack and river ice, the greater the risk of sudden warm-up and rain storms.” Lent said. “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.”

The US Coast Guard is planning to begin ice-breaking operations in the lower Kennebec River in late March.

Lent 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 1 meeting is available on the Internet at http://www.maine.gov/rfac