March 17, 2018
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Heavy rains, wind expected to continue Monday

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff

FORT KENT, Maine — A storm angling eastward from the Midwest already had dumped more than 20 inches of snow over some states and was on a track toward Maine, where it was expected to meet up with warm, moist air coming in off the Atlantic.

The National Weather Service says a high-wind warning will remain in effect in Eastern Maine until 1 pm Monday, while storm-force conditions along Maine’s entire coast means commercial vessels should “consider remaining in port or taking shelter in port until winds and waves subside.”

Winds are blowing offshore at 30 to 40 knots, with areas of dense fog reducing visibility below one nautical mile.

Two schools, Brooks Elementary and CSD 13, Deer Isle-Stonington, are reported closed for the day.

As of 3:40 a.m. Monday, the service reported that winds on shore were blowing at 30 to 35 miles per hour, with gusts up to 60 mph. Numerous downed trees and branches have been reported throughout the region, and the service says to expect power outages.

Flood warnings are in effect for parts of Cumberland and Oxford counties. The Presumpscot River in Westbrook measured more than 11 feet and was rising shortly after midnight Monday and was expected to rise to 17 feet by Monday afternoon, then fall back below the flood stage of 15 feet by evening.

The storm pummeling the Midwest over the weekend is expected to largely miss Maine. That storm closed major highways in several states, canceled more than 1,600 flights in Chicago and collapsed the roof of the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium.

At least six weather-related deaths were reported. Nearly 2 feet of snow fell in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin before marching east into Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

The storm was headed northeast toward Canada, according to NWS, with some snow possible Monday in Michigan, northern Indiana through parts of Pennsylvania and New York. Nearly 2 feet of snow fell in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin during the weekend.

In northern Maine precipitation was expected to start out as snow, turn to sleet or freezing rain and then to rain.

Walker said the existing snowpack around the state, combined with the melting effects of the rain and higher temperatures, were causing some flooding concerns statewide.

“The snowpack will be eroded, and that moisture is a concern for the small streams and main rivers,” he said.

High on that list, he said, is the Piscataquis River, which is being monitored in Dover-Foxcroft.

On Sunday afternoon, Tom Iverson, Emergency Management Agency director for Piscataquis County, said the river is monitored at all times.

“We just have to watch it after it rains over the next day or so because that’s when it could come up,” Iverson said.

Walker said flooding in Maine in December is unusual and the storm could even bring some thunder.

“They are already getting some thunder over southern New England, so it wouldn’t be a shocker if we hear some rumbles,” he said.

Wind, Walker, said is another concern with this storm.

“We are already [on Sunday] looking at winds off the coast of New Hampshire up to 40 mph and we could get gusts up to 60,” he said. “Our biggest wind concerns are along coastal areas, but we think the effects could spread as far as Bangor overnight and potentially as far north as Greenville to Houlton.”

Walker said the very slow-moving system would take its time and move out of Maine by Tuesday night.

The whole system is then expected to stall out over New Brunswick with a second system wrapping back over to Maine off the Atlantic into portions of Down East and eastern Maine bringing more of a snow event.

Be it rain, wind or snow, Iverson remains philosophical about the weather.

“This is Maine,” he said. “We’ll take it as it comes and keep an eye on it.”

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