HOULTON, Maine — After some springtime weather, Aroostook County faces a return to cold rains and snow over the weekend, leading to concerns about potential ice jams in the rivers that could cause flooding.
While there were no current flood warnings for The County, the NWS station was continuing to monitor the situation around the St. John, Aroostook and Meduxnekeag rivers, Tim Duda, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Caribou, said on Friday.
“We’re not anticipating any significant flooding, but an ice jam can be pretty unpredictable,” Duda said. “If a jam were to develop, there could be some localized flooding on rivers and streams.”
Ice jams develop when floating pieces of ice along rivers pile up and block the flow of water, causing it to back up, and leading to potential flooding. In the past, ice jams — especially along the Aroostook and St. John rivers — have damaged bridges and homes, resulting in thousands of dollars in repairs. Some significant recent ice jams in Aroostook occurred in 2014, 2015 and 2019.
As of 1:45 p.m. Friday, most of Aroostook, along with the rest of Maine, is listed as having a hazardous weather outlook. The exception is the area along the St. John River Valley, including the Madawaska and Fort Kent areas, which are under a winter weather advisory.
As temperatures cool down in Aroostook Friday night and into the weekend, The County will see the rain turn into snowfall. The northern half of Aroostook is expected to get 2 to 4 inches of snow, while the southern half can expect around 1 inch, Duda said.
With some snow still on the ground in Aroostook despite the rainfall, and the additional snow to be expected this weekend, the rivers in Aroostook are particularly at risk for ice jam flooding.
“Places like the St. John, the Aroostook River basin, we’re particularly monitoring those,” Duda said. “There’s still ice on those rivers and a decent amount of snow across the north, so those are the rivers that we’re watching.”