Tuesday’s wicked wet weather changed into persistent snow flurries across much of Western Maine by Wednesday morning, pushing brooks, streams and rivers still receding from last week’s deluge, back to and over their banks.
But despite the 2- to 3-inch soaking, flooding rivers in Androscoggin and Franklin counties had only closed two low-lying roads by nightfall on Tuesday — Auburn’s River Road along the Androscoggin River and the George Taylor Road along Sandy River at the New Sharon-Chesterville town lines.
Both roads remained closed Wednesday.
“We got a good swath of 2 to 3 inches mostly in southwest Maine into Androscoggin County,” James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Wednesday afternoon in Gray.
“And this was considerably less than the last storm, where we got 4 to 6 inches of rain, and we got at least one report of 9 inches. But those rivers were still receding in extreme southern sections when this whole rain event started, and that helped to push things.
“Normally, if we would have had enough time to dry out, these 2 to 3 inches probably wouldn’t have done what it’s doing,” Brown said. “It probably wouldn’t have pushed things over flood stage. But unfortunately, it had only been less than a week since the last time we had the heavy rains.”
Joanne G. Potvin, director of the Androscoggin Unified Emergency Management Agency in Lewiston, said the agency’s rain gauge held 2.62 inches by early Wednesday afternoon.
“There wasn’t a lot of snow left upcountry, and so there wasn’t a lot of snowmelt left, so I think we’ve dodged a bullet again this year, but I won’t say that until we get down below flood stage, but I really think we have,” Potvin said.
The weather service extended its flood warning until Thursday evening for the Androscoggin River near Auburn.
Potvin said that by 11 a.m. Wednesday, the river, which has a 13-foot flood stage at Auburn, had reached 12.3 feet, but is expected to crest at 13.9 feet after midnight. By Thursday afternoon, it will fall below flood stage, she said.
“But for us, when we reach 13 feet, we sit back and say, ‘Huh? Huh? High water at 13 feet?’ It really isn’t a problem at all for us,” Potvin said. “The only thing that happens at 13 feet for us is the River Road where Higgins Sporting Place is, up off Center Street. That road floods like 12 times a year, so that’s the only problem that we know has happened.”
“Normally, once we get to 10 feet, the River Road closes, so it’s probably been closed since last night.”
Franklin County EMA Director Tim Hardy said the flood-prone George Thomas Road has a low spot where Sandy River flooding usually flows over a bridge.
“Other than that, I think we weathered (the storm) pretty well,” Hardy said.
The Sandy River crested early Wednesday morning in Farmington and was dropping “pretty good right now” by midafternoon, he added.
Oxford County EMA Director Scott Parker said that despite the rain there wasn’t any major issues and none are predicted.
“We’re not expecting any dwellings to flood,” he said.
In Rumford, the Androscoggin River wasn’t expected to top the dam’s 15-foot flood stage.
According to a hydrology report, the river had reached 12.61 feet at the dam by 7 a.m. Wednesday, and was expected to drop to 11.4 feet by 7 a.m. Thursday. All of which was good news for Potvin.
“Once they reach a crest and start falling, we know we’ll be falling about 10 hours later,” she said. “We’ll fall gradually, but our big fall will be 10 hours after they fall.”
Rain that changed over to light snow on Wednesday when temperatures ranged through the mid to low 30s and plummeting temperatures after Thursday, could significantly reduce any further spring flooding threats.
So, embrace Thursday morning’s warmth, because more seasonable weather is on the doorstep, meteorologist Brown said.
“It looks like we’re going to have a pretty warm day tomorrow because we will get a warm flow out in front of this thing, and then, of course, the temperature goes down the tubes Friday and into the weekend,” he said.
A two-day rain storm that turned to persistent snow flurries on Wednesday in Rumford gave landowners along South Rumford Road lakefront property after the Androscoggin River (far left background) overflowed its banks onto farm fields between the road and river. By Wednesday morning, the river was within 2 feet of its 15-foot flood stage at Rumford Dam, but expected to fall to 4 feet below flood stage by 7 a.m. Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
A few inches of rain that fell Tuesday into Wednesday raised Hicks Pond within a few feet of Greenwood Road in Greenwood by early afternoon on Wednesday.
Falling snow early Wednesday afternoon on Noyes Mountain at right in Greenwood left less than an inch of new snow alongside Greenwood Road.