Maine River Flow Advisory Commission Meets in Augusta
March 16, 2018
Spring Flood Threat Expected to be Above Average
AUGUSTA, MAINE — The State’s River Flow Advisory Commission met today in Augusta to discuss ice conditions and flood risk across the state.
“This has been a pretty active season already for flooding and although there are no flood threats now, things could change over the next few weeks,” said Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Suzanne Krauss. “We will continue to monitor conditions so we are fully prepared and will meet again in about two weeks.”
The National Weather Service predicts lower than normal temperatures and slightly higher than normal precipitation over the next few weeks.
“The longer we go with low temperatures, the greater the threat of a quick melt, which is why I predict an above-average threat of flooding this season,” said Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service, Gray.
Many of Maine’s rivers in central and southern Maine have open water due to recent warmer temperatures. Rivers in northern Maine still have ice and the US Geological Survey will have a crew gauging ice thickness on those rivers next week.
Ice jams that caused flooding earlier in the winter have gradually melted away in most locations, including one that was especially problematic on the Kennebec River. The US Coast Guard has been conducting ice-breaking missions along the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers, including an unprecedented mid-winter breakout and an early spring breakout.
“The State as a whole is at normal or the upper end of normal for stream flow and groundwater,” said Nicholas Stasulis, Data Section Chief, U.S. Geological Survey. “Water levels were low in the fall, but the October storm and the January thaw helped bring water levels up.”
Stasulis said the latest gauge information for about 80 flood gauges state-wide can be obtained by sending an email with the station number to email@example.com and also by visiting waterwatch.usgs.gov. This includes information from a newly-installed flood gauge in Hallowell, where flooding occurred earlier this year.
“These gauges are important in helping emergency managers and the public plan for potential flooding,” said Krauss. “MEMA is pleased to partner with the USGS and NWS to help provide this extremely valuable information.”
Representatives from the National Weather Service’s Northeast River Forecast Center (NERFC) indicated an increase in NESIS Storms in recent years. The Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS) was developed by Paul Kocin and Louis Uccellini of the National Weather Service and characterizes and ranks high-impact Northeast snowstorms. Per the National Weather Service, NESIS storms have large areas of snowfall accumulation amounting to 10 or more inches. NESIS has five categories: Extreme, Crippling, Major, Significant, and Notable.
The River Flow Advisory Commission will meet again in about two weeks. Today’s report will be available online at www.maine.gov/mema or can be obtained from MEMA by calling 207-624-4400.