With heavy rain and snowmelt, Kennebec River expected to flood
AUGUSTA — A storm system bringing dangerously cold temperatures to much of the United States is expected to bring heavy rain, strong gusts of wind and rapid cooling to central Maine, prompting officials to urge residents to plan for minor to moderate weather Prepare for flooding on the Kennebec River and the possibility of power outages over the Christmas weekend.
“The first thing everyone will see is probably some rain or snow flurries starting the day,” Greg Cornwell, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray, said Thursday. “The wind should pick up as the day progresses and it’s likely to be quite gusty by the time people head out the door on Friday.”
Wind gusts are expected to reach 50 to 70 miles per hour by Friday afternoon, Cornwell said, and by Friday evening the temperature is expected to drop, bringing flashing frosts and frigid conditions on Saturday, accompanied by extremely cold temperatures that are expected to continue into the holiday weekend .
Prior to the storm’s arrival, Central Maine Power Co. announced it would bring in additional crews to help restore power in the event of widespread outages. The Maine state government also announced that state offices will be closed on Friday.
Emergency management officials urged people to check on their neighbors to make sure they are safe and that people should contact their towns and cities if they need help.
“With the recent snow, we are concerned that the snow could clog storm drains, which could result in road flooding or flash flooding as the heavy rain comes down,” Cornwell said.
River flooding presents a more difficult situation, Cornwell said. The combination of rain and snowmelt means runoff will flow into streams and rivers across the region, but Friday night’s rapidly falling temperature is expected to slow this as water begins to freeze on Saturday morning.
As of Thursday, the Kennebec River was forecast to reach at least a minor flood stage in north Sydney and Augusta by early Saturday and the moderate flood stage in Hallowell by Saturday afternoon.
Along the river, communities made preparations to clear low-lying banks in the event of flooding.
In Hallowell, the police department said it would suspend the winter parking ban and allow overnight parking on Water Street for vehicles that routinely park on Front Street.
In Gardiner, officials said they will be watching where the Cobbosseecontee Stream joins the Kennebec River to see if water will flow back into the Arcade parking lot, which is used by Water Street businesses and residents.
Chief James Toman of the Gardiner Police Department said when the river reaches 18 feet in Augusta, it generally rises to about 13 feet in Gardiner, and then water begins to flow onto the parking lot. Every extra foot means the water creeps closer to the back of the Water Street buildings.
In a recommendation to local emergency managers, Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency director Art True suggested they prepare for the possibility of having to open heat centers if the storm causes widespread power outages.
“I’ve spoken to several cities,” True said, “and my advice to them was to dust off the plans and get ready because there’s a very good possibility that you might want to open one.”
Cornwell said about 2 inches of rain is expected to fall in the Augusta region, with 2.5 inches expected north of Augusta. He said he expects central and northern Somerset County to receive several inches of snow.
High pressure is expected to enter the area after the storm, Cornwell said, keeping conditions calm next week.
Maine reports first flu-related child death this winter
Wrong username / wrong password.
Please check your email to confirm and complete your registration.
Use the form below to reset your password. If you have submitted your account email, we will send you an email with a reset code.