FORT KENT, Maine – Maine residents got a break Tuesday from the heavy rainstorms that pounded parts of the state over the weekend – but the water lingered.
With the ground already saturated in many places, the water had to go somewhere. By early Tuesday morning some of Maine’ s rivers and streams were reporting levels 12 feet above where they were just 24 hours earlier, according to Mark Turner, service hydrologist with the National Weather Service Office in Caribou.
Turner said that in the headwaters of the Allagash and St. John River watershed, the water level went from 5.5 feet on Friday, Aug. 1, to 19.1 feet Tuesday morning.
In the 72-hour period through Tuesday afternoon, rainfall totals in Aroostook County ranged from 5.3 inches in Wytopitlock to nearly 5 inches in the St. John Valley.
Central Aroostook County saw up to 2 inches, while portions of Hancock and Penobscot counties dealt with up to 4 inches of rain in some spots.
“All the rivers have mostly crested and are starting to go down,” Turner said. The exceptions are the Fish and St. Francis rivers in the St. John Valley.
“Those are fed out of the lakes, and they take longer to go up and to come down,” Turner said.
In Washburn in Aroostook County, the Aroostook River rose from 4.5 feet to 6.49 feet, and in Masardis it went from 5 feet to 9.25 feet. The Mattawamkeag River rose from 7 feet to 10.45 feet.
In Washington County, the Narraguagus River at Cherryfield rose from less than 8 feet to 10.83 feet, while the Penobscot River at West Enfield in Penobscot County went from 4.5 feet to 7.49 feet.
Maine is well on its way to breaking precipitation records this year, Turner said.
“People said they have never seen [rain] like this before, and they probably have not,” he said.
For the 212 days between Jan. 1 and July 31, the NWS at Caribou recorded 28.66 inches of precipitation. The next-closest amount over that same time span was 27.5 inches in 1976.
“We are setting a pace for a record year,” Turner said. “We’ ll keep an eye on it.”
The NWS office in Gray has issued a flood watch for southern and southwestern Maine as well as portions of New Hampshire, Turner said.
“There is a big continent-sized air mass sitting over us directing the weather pattern,” Turner said Tuesday. “It can take weeks or months to move them out.”
What that means for those on the ground is a long trough pattern affecting the East Coast sending short waves of energy in the form of rainstorms.
“This is with us for the foreseeable future,” Turner said. “All the models show us a continued trough pattern.”
The weekend storm washed out the road in several places between Connor, New Brunswick, and Glazier Lake. On Sunday a Canadian military helicopter evacuated more than 50 stranded campers and cottage owners with no injuries reported.
Repairs to the road are expected to take up to a month to complete, according to New Brunswick emergency officials.
In Fort Kent the rising water led to some minor flooding in low areas around River Side Park and the Blockhouse, forcing relocation of the Boy Scouts’ chicken barbecue.
As a precaution, the storm drains on the town’ s dike that protects the downtown area from the St. John River were shut off and the pumps started.
“There was no water coming into town,” Town Manager Don Guimond said Tuesday afternoon.
There were unconfirmed reports that canoeists on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway had to portage around bridges as high water did not leave enough clearance to pass beneath.