Spring Flood Potential Near Normal – For Now


March 5, 2009

4:00 PM


AUGUSTA, MAINE — This winter ’s snowpack, ice conditions, stream flows and headwaters storages have combined to create flood potential that is near normal for the time of year, according to Maine’s River Flow Advisory Commission. However, flood potential may elevate in the coming weeks. The Commission, meeting today in Augusta, reviewed information on current hydrologic conditions across the state, as well as short-term weather forecasts.

“The snowpack, though substantial, is not alarming for the time of year,” said Bob Lent, District Chief, US Geological Survey and co-chairman of the Commission. “However, we are not likely to lose any snow over the next few weeks, and may gain some. That will likely mean an elevated flood potential later in the spring.”

Areas of the headwaters of Maine’s major rivers have 9 to 10 inches of water contained in the snowpack, according to this week’s survey. Water content readings are 6 to 7 inches across much of central Maine, and generally less along the coast. Although for much of Maine this is in the upper 25% of historical averages, it is less than last year when record snowfalls pushed snowpack water content to historically high levels.

Currently, the snowpack can absorb some amount of rainfall. Short-term forecasts include a brief warm-up and light minor snow or rain event for this weekend, transitioning to a period of below-normal temperatures and the potential for additional snow. Therefore, the state will carry a significant snowpack later into the spring, when the risk of a sudden warm-up or spring rain becomes greater.

Preparedness is the key to minimizing the impact of flooding or of any emergency, according to Rob McAleer, Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, and co-chair of the Commission. Families, schools, communities and businesses should review their plans for flooding emergencies, as well as their flood insurance coverage.

“Spring conditions can change rapidly,” said McAleer. “Stay aware of National Weather Service forecasts as the spring progresses. Talk to local officials and your County Emergency Management Agency about flood preparedness in your community, and how to build an emergency plan for your family, business or school. And, it is most important to check your flood insurance coverage if you live or have a business in a flood-prone area. Most home and business owner’s policies do not cover flood damages.”

Commission members will stay in close communication throughout the spring season, and will meet again if conditions warrant. Snow surveys will be conducted each week from now until the snow cover is gone.

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



Lynette Miller