Augusta Public Works sawhorses block off the north end of the Front Street parking lot Friday in downtown Augusta. The lot was closed Thursday night because of possible flooding from the Kennebec River after recent rains. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Steady rain this week has caused the Kennebec River to rise, prompting Augusta and Gardiner to close low-lying public areas as a precaution. Another storm arriving next week is expected to bring more rain and snow to the region.

The Augusta Public Works Department closed the north end of the Front Street parking lot Thursday over concerns for localized flooding, and it was expected to remain closed through Friday night.

The Kennebec had swelled to about 11 feet in Augusta as of 2 p.m. Friday, just shy of minor flooding stage at 12 feet.

Gardiner officials announced Friday that the Waterfront Park would close at 4 p.m. due to the flood advisory and predicted water rise for the Kennebec River.

Roughly an inch and a half of rain had fallen on Kennebec and Somerset counties as of Friday morning, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jerry Combs, with another half-inch expected Friday night.

Coupled with the roughly 6 inches of snow still on the ground in much of central Maine, Combs said the Kennebec has become inundated in recent days with lots of runoff.


“(Flooding) continues to be a possibility, as it’s still raining in a lot of areas, but it seems like everything has behaved itself,” Combs said. “We’re still expecting rivers to come up, but we aren’t forecasting anything to go into flood stage.”

Though the flood watch declaration warned of flooding in urban areas and places with poor drainage, Combs said the NWS had yet to see any.

The Kennebec has continued to rise since rain began falling on Wednesday, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. A flood watch was issued for central Maine and will remain in effect until 8 p.m. Friday.

In addition to rain and potential flooding, Combs said winds were blowing up to 35 mph in Augusta on Friday afternoon. Gusts are forecasted to reach up to 40 mph Saturday before tapering off Sunday.

Though the Kennebec is forecasted to recede after Saturday afternoon, Combs said water levels may rise again next week when another storm brings more cold, rain and snow to the region.

“It looks like Wednesday and Thursday next week, there’s a possibility that a storm could bring some decent snowfall to the region,” he said. “There’s still time for models to shift around a bit, but the potential is certainly there.”

Augusta officials have secured federal funding to raise the level of the Front Street parking lot by 5 feet to lessen the impact of flooding on that low-lying area.

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