AUGUSTA — Ice has largely passed on southern Maine rivers and streams, but a state commission heard Thursday that rain expected at the end of next week in northern Maine is driving flood concerns there.

Cold weather has started to taper off, but Gregory Stewart, data section chief for the U.S. Geological Survey in Augusta, told the Maine River Flow Advisory Commission that conditions are similar to what the state would normally see in late March and that late April rain could cause flooding in some areas.

Snow fell across much of southern Maine between Wednesday and Thursday with areas in the state’s southern half seeing between 3 and 7 inches, according to Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray. He said some rain was expected across much of the state overnight on Thursday.

Temperatures will warm into the 50s next week and rain could fall again next weekend — April 18 and 19 — across much of the state. But while Stewart said ice is “pretty much gone” on the Kennebec River and other southern Maine water bodies, he said ice is still thick in northern Maine from Millinocket to Fort Kent.

He compared this year’s weather to conditions leading up to a historic 2008 flood along the St. John River and other Aroostook County rivers, saying significant rainfall next weekend could cause flooding.

“Everything’s going to be wet, everything’s going to be primed, everything’s going to be moving next weekend,” Stewart said, “so that weather system next weekend is one to watch very closely if that ends up being a rainstorm.”

Through March, forecasters were concerned that deep snow and thick ice could cause ice jam floods in much of Maine, including on the Kennebec River.

But that concern has largely passed, especially after a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking mission on the river last week. Officials reported that the river is flushing well and ice isn’t accumulating around the Maine-Kennebec Bridge in Richmond, whose piers were seen as a potential flashpoint for ice jam flooding. Stewart said the river should rise over the next week, which could send water into low-lying places such as the parking lot in downtown Augusta, but that flooding isn’t a concern.

Sean Goodwin, interim director of the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency, said while ice has broken up in much of the Kennebec River around Augusta, there are spots in Hallowell and Farmingdale where it has “bunched up.” He said his agency is watching them, but he thinks a few tide cycles should clear it.

“So far, knocking on wood, we’ve gotten over what could’ve been some excitement,” Goodwin said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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