Flood alerts posted for northern Aroostook, Somerset counties as rain persists

Posted May 05, 2011, at 11:29 a.m.
Last modified May 05, 2011, at 11:32 p.m.
A trail sign at Fort Kent's Riverside Park is partially submerged Thursday as the St. John River approached flood stage.
A trail sign at Fort Kent's Riverside Park is partially submerged Thursday as the St. John River approached flood stage.
A dog plays in the waters of the St. John River where it has spilled over the banks behind West Main Street in Fort Kent on to Riverside Park. At 3:30 p.m. Thursday the recorded river level in Fort Kent was 20.94 feet. Flood stage is  22-feet with the river expected to crest at 22.8-feet late Friday.
A dog plays in the waters of the St. John River where it has spilled over the banks behind West Main Street in Fort Kent on to Riverside Park. At 3:30 p.m. Thursday the recorded river level in Fort Kent was 20.94 feet. Flood stage is 22-feet with the river expected to crest at 22.8-feet late Friday.

FORT KENT — A flood watch was posted early Thursday for northern Aroostook County where up to 3 inches of rain is expected to fall through Friday. By midafternoon Thursday, the National Weather Service also had issued a flood warning for parts of Somerset County along the Kennebec River, including Skowhegan.

A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts, while a warning is meant to alert area residents of flooding that threatens life or property.

The flood watch issued for northern Aroostook is in effect through Saturday morning and covers an area that ranges from Allagash and Fort Kent to Presque Isle and Mars Hill.

The NWS forecasts between 2.5 and 3 inches of total rainfall across northeastern and northwestern Aroostook, which “will cause significant rises along area rivers and tributary streams.” The flood watch indicates the most serious threat is across the Allagash and St. John river basins with flooding possible through early Saturday.

“Smaller streams and brooks spilling out of their banks could lead to some flooding of roads, especially in low-lying areas such as Routes 11, 1, 161 and the Golden Road,” the forecast indicates.

Area residents are urged to monitor forecasts and be prepared to take necessary action.

The St. John River at Fort Kent was at 20.94 feet as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday and expected to crest at 22.8 feet late in the day Friday, 3 inches above flood stage.

Those levels could mean flooding of some residential basements along East Main Street where the St. John River already had covered a large expanse of Riverside Park on Thursday afternoon.

The Aroostook River at Washburn and at Masardis was expected to remain below flood stage and crest at 14 feet in Washburn and 10 feet in Masardis on Thursday.

The NWS also issued a flood warning for the Kennebec River at Skowhegan from late Thursday night until Saturday morning.

Though minor flooding is expected, the NWS reported on its website that the water flow of the Kennebec River was at 33,800 cubic feet per second at 2 p.m. Thursday and was expected to peak at 36,760 cubic feet per second by Friday evening. Flood flow is 35,000 cubic feet per second. The river was expected to fall below flood stage Saturday morning.

In its alert, the NWS warned area residents, “Do not drive through flooded areas. It is impossible to know if the road is safe for travel. Turn around … don’t drown.”

Freelance writer Julia Bayly contributed to this report.

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