Drenching rain is moving across southern Maine, slowing the morning commute and setting the state up for minor coastal flooding.

As the heavy rain moves across the area by 8 a.m., drivers can expect to encounter hydroplaning conditions.

“We’re looking at as much as 5 inches of rain out of this today,” said meteorologist Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray.

The weather service said 1 to 3 inches of rain has fallen across much of Maine, with even higher amounts in New Hampshire. At 8 a.m., there had been 2.44 inches of rain in Gray, 1.05 inches in Portland, 3.03 inches in West Rockport, 2.59 inches in Fryeburg and reports of more than 2 inches in York County. In New Hampshire, 4.28 inches have fallen in Keene and 3.93 inches in Tamworth.

“We’ll double or more than double (the Maine totals) by early this afternoon,” Hawley said. “The rain really will be quite heavy.”

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for inland and coastal areas of Maine. Rain could fall at a rate of 1 inch per hour.

That rain, coupled with strong onshore winds and extreme high tides, could lead to flooding and beach erosion on the coast. The weather service issued a flood watch for 2 a.m. Wednesday through 8 a.m. Thursday.

High tide will be just after 1 p.m. in Portland Harbor.

Police dispatchers in York County reported no issues early Wednesday with street flooding or rain-related accidents, but cautioned drivers to take it slow and watch out for standing water in roadways.

No delays were reported Wednesday morning at the Portland International Jetport.

Hawley said rain should taper off this afternoon and Thursday is expected to be partially sunny. It will be dry into Sunday before more rain from Hurricane Joaquin moves in to end the weekend. Hawley said it likely will be rainy early next week.

Tropical Storm Joaquin strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday morning as it neared the Bahamas. Forecasters are divided about whether the eye of the storm will hit the East Coast later this week.

The promise of heavy rain had the directors of the Cumberland County Fair considering whether to close for only the second time in the past decade, but fair president Mike Timmons said officials decided to keep some aspects of the fair open Wednesday. A 4-H auction scheduled for 4 p.m. will still go on, but the midway is closed. Harness racing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and evening has been called off. Timmons said the fair gates are open and people won’t be charged admission if they want to visit for the 4-H auction.

Despite the rain, the 4-H students were at the fairgrounds early to prepare their animals for the event.

“It’s something very special for our youth,” Timmons said. “We didn’t want to cancel that.”

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