AUGUSTA, Maine — With temperatures expected to rise in the coming week, members of the state’s River Flow Advisory Commission on Thursday said they expected rivers to rise. However, one member said “there are no screaming signals” that flooding or ice jams will occur.
Donny Dumont, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Caribou, gave a review of the flooding potential in his area of the state during the telephone conference.
“Looking at the ice thickness, we’ll need a 2- to 3-foot rise … to get ice breaks and ice jams,” Dumont told the panel about Aroostook County. “If the rivers will rise enough is still the question. We need to watch.”
Beginning Thursday night in northern Maine and Down East, there will be “an icy mix that changes to rain [and then] a general warming trend. The highs are going to get into the 50s and barely drop below freezing throughout the night,” Dumont said. “The big question is: Will it get below freezing at night to cap the melting?”
If it doesn’t, the rivers will continue to rise overnight and could cause flooding, the meteorologist said.
Dumont and others on the panel also expressed concerns about rains expected the weekend of April 18-19, which combined with melting ice and snow could bring ice breaks and flooding in northern Maine and other parts of the state.
Mother Nature’s timetable is slightly off from other years, said Greg Stewart, U.S. Geological Survey supervisory hydrologist.
“Maybe our calendar shifted,” he said. Maine is getting “mid- to late-March normal [weather] at the beginning of April. We’re starting to see the normal annual spring turn.”
Stewart said the Patriot’s Day flood of 2008 involving the St. John and Fish rivers in Fort Kent had heavy snow conditions similar to this year, but the area also received 4 inches of rain in a short amount of time to compound the problem. Besides a couple of light showers expected Tuesday in northern parts of the state, most of Maine should expect dry conditions for next week.
“Ice dynamics is complicated,” Stewart said.
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed,” Bruce Fitzgerald, Maine Emergency Management Agency director said.
The River Flow Advisory Commission is composed of state, federal and industry representatives with an interest in hydrologic issues. It is co-chaired by MEMA and USGS New England Water Science Center.
The group decided at the end of the meeting to hold one more gathering next Thursday. For information, visit maine.gov/rfac.