Flood watches have been issued for central, western and southern Maine, as expected rainfall and snowmelt might lead to river flooding this weekend from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon.

The watch, issued at 2:36 p.m. Thursday, covers Kennebec, Franklin and Somerset counties in central Maine, as well as all or parts of Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, Waldo and Cumberland counties.

The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service of the National Weather Service forecasts that the Kennebec River in Augusta could start rising Saturday morning and reach the action stage of 10 feet — from the river bottom at the gauge on Augusta’s Calumet Bridge at Old Fort Western — around 4 p.m. Saturday. The minor flood stage is 12 feet, and the river could reach 16.6 feet Sunday.

“That will be enough to get the parking lot in Augusta wet,” said James Brown, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

Rain from a weather system moving through the area is expected to start Friday evening, Brown said, and continue into Saturday. Total rainfall could be 1 to 2 inches, but combined with expected snowmelt in the headwaters of the state’s main rivers — including the Kennebec — the result could be 1 to 2 inches rainfall equivalent.

“This (one) was enough to get my attention a little bit more this weekend than last weekend,” Sean Goodwin, Kennebec County Emergency Management director, said Thursday. “I sat down with people today and I will make the rounds Friday, and Saturday and Sunday, if need be.”

In Somerset County, emergency management officials are monitoring the Kennebec River and its tributaries.

Mike Smith, Somerset County Emergency Management director, said the flow of the Kennebec River at West Station in Skowhegan could reach 73,000 cubic feet per second.

“That will have some effects on the river corridor, and in Skowhegan especially,” he said.

At that rate, there will be flooding on some roadways, and the sewage treatment plant could be affected. And if the Kennebec River is high, that means tributaries such as the Sandy and Carabassett rivers will not be able to drain into it.

“This is still 48 hours out,” he said.

But he noted that the snowpack in the mountains is still pretty deep.

“I had an email from the Jackman fire chief,” he said. “I know that’s in a different area, but he’s a forester and he measured the snowpack and the water content. They still have 36 inches of snow, and there’s 8.4 inches of water in the snow.”

A week ago, the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service forecast the Kennebec River in Augusta would reach about 14 feet, but conditions changed and the river did not rise that far.

While the moon reached the full stage Thursday, that’s not expected to affect river flooding.

“The tide will be a little bit higher, but it won’t be significant that far up from the ocean,” Brown said.

A flood watch means that the potential for flooding exists, based on current forecasts.


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