A bicyclist tries to stay dry while riding along Court Street in Houlton Thursday afternoon. Credit: Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times

CARIBOU, Maine — The surge of rain over the past few days has helped Aroostook County and the central part of the state recover from a lack of water that plagued the area over the summer, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.

Chris Norcross, a meteorologist at the NWS, said that the rainfall totals over the past few days vary according to location, with some towns and cities hit harder than others.

Bangor, he said Thursday morning, has averaged between 1.5 and 2.5 inches of rain over the past 48 hours. Aroostook County as a whole has averaged 1¼ to 2 inches during that same time period.

This was a boost to an area where in July, total rainfall reached 40 to 70 percent of average across the region, according to the NWS. A total of 2.62 inches of precipitation fell in Caribou in July, which was 1.46 inches below normal for the month.

In August, Caribou picked up 2.28 inches of rain, which was 1.48 inches below normal, making it the 18th driest August on record. Bangor picked up 1.64 inches, which was 1.34 inches below normal, ranking it the 17th driest August on record, according to the NWS. By the end of the month, the Down East region north into parts of southern Aroostook were in moderate drought, according to the U.S. drought monitor.

The abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions extended to coastal, eastern and far northern parts of the state — but they were not as bad as the drought that affected Maine last summer and fall.

Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board, said Thursday that the rain was “welcome,” although he wished it could have happened “a few weeks ago.”

“The crops are safe,” he said Thursday. “As dry as it was, we needed a certain amount of moisture for the soil. I see no negative impact. Next week people will be out starting to harvest and it will be nice to have the soil a bit moister.”

Norcross said that both Caribou and Bangor are now 1 inch above normal for annual rainfall totals to date.

“That rain helped a lot,” he said Thursday.

The forecast from the NWS in Caribou calls for mostly sunny skies followed by a chance of showers Friday, a chance of showers Saturday, mostly sunny Sunday and sunny on Monday.