PARIS – The seriousness of spring flooding resulting from this winter’s heavy snowfall will depend on how the snow melts, according to a local emergency official.

Scott Parker, director of the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency, said the ideal dissipation of the snow pack would occur via warm daytime temperatures and cooler evenings.

“If things stay the way they are, it’s not that big of a problem,” Parker said.

Though weather forecasts continue to raise the possibility of snow and ice, the high temperatures predicted by the National Weather Service for the next week are consistently above freezing. Parker said there is also less ice on rivers than usual, which reduces the chances of ice jams causing flooding.

Parker said the water level of the Crooked River has been rising, but he did not believe additional snowfall would affect the condition of other county rivers.

“The bigger issue right now is really the water that’s going to form on the roads,” he said.

Melting snowbanks along roads have created sizable puddles, which can create hazards at night by freezing.

Parker said the lack of ice on the rivers should help in carrying away spring runoff, but he also noted that there will be a higher volume of water entering the river.

He also said flooding could occur if the snow melts too quickly. Such a situation occurred last year on Patriot’s Day, April 16, when rain and melting snow caused an estimated $2.5 million in damage to property in Oxford County.

The EMA has three monitors on the Androscoggin River: at Bethel, Rumford and Canton. Parker said the state monitors the Swift River.

The state EMA Web site has urged people to get flood insurance for their homes and businesses. It cites March and April as historic months for flooding in Maine, but states that heavy rains can cause flooding at any time.

Parker said he does not believe preparation for spring will be any different this year, although there have been signs of early preparation. He said the West Paris and South Paris fire departments have picked up sandbags in anticipation of flooding.

“It’s not a bad idea to try to mitigate things now,” Parker said.


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