BRUNSWICK, Maine — Saturday’s mild temperatures and heavy rain on Sunday, while a welcome relief to many Mainers, are increasing the risk of flooding.
The National Weather Service issued flood watches through Monday afternoon for coastal, western and central Maine, as well as flood warnings along the southern coast up through Lincoln County and across southwestern Maine and into Androscoggin and Kennebec counties.
Meanwhile, winter maintained its grip on northern Maine, much of which was under a winter weather advisory as snow continued to fall. Madawaska and Dyer Brook reported 8 inches of snow by early evening.
Meteorologists worry most about flooding along small streams and in urban areas where storm drains already are clogged.
“Basically right now the biggest threat is that we expect about 2 inches total rainfall, and with the snow and real poor drainage — especially the storm drains blocked with ice — the water isn’t going to have anywhere to go,” said meteorologist Mike Kistner of the National Weather Service in Gray.
Kistner said motorists should watch for “ponding” — deep pools of water, especially near culverts and storm drains.
There is no imminent threat of ice jams on any major rivers, but that could change any time.
The Bangor Police Department closed off the Kenduskeag Plaza parking area downtown late Sunday morning, citing concerns that the Kenduskeag Stream might jump its stone channel. The department said it would remain closed through high tide tomorrow morning. People who normally park there should go to the parking garage instead, police said.
That area has been closed several times this winter, but the area didn’t flood.
“The thing we don’t have to watch today, but maybe down the road a couple of weeks from now, is there’s still a lot of snow in the mountains, and we eventually could have some river flood issues later on in the spring,” Kistner said. “Even today, ice jams are unpredictable. You never know when one might form and release. But as of today, we haven’t seen that.”
Away from the coast, western and central Maine also were under a winter weather advisory, with a winter storm warning for the northern part of the state and interior Maine to the mountains.
Snow continued to fall in northern and western Maine, with 5 inches reported on the ground in Sherman as of 9:21 a.m. Sunday, and lesser amounts throughout Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties. The snow was mixing with and turning to sleet in many areas, including LaGrange, Danforth and Houlton.
South of Augusta and Lewiston, though, it’s all rain, although that may turn to freezing rain as temperatures cool Sunday night, according to meteorologist Chris Kimble at the weather service in Gray.
Washington County emergency dispatchers reported water on Charlotte Road in Charlotte, and state police reported water on Washington Junction Road near Wyman Road just east of Ellsworth.
Precipitation should end by late Monday in western Maine, but may extend into Monday night in the eastern part of the state.
Finally, though, “We should see sun on Tuesday,” Kimble said.
BDN writers Nick McCrea and Tim Cox contributed to this report.