RUMFORD – Western Maine was spared flooding after heavy rains struck the midcoast instead of venturing inland Monday afternoon into early Tuesday morning.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kirk Apffel said West Rockport got 3½ inches of rain in six to 10 hours. Lisbon Falls recorded 2.2 inches.

He said Durham had 1.8 inches, Hartford just over 1½ inches, Farmington and Livermore Falls each just under 1½ inches, Rumford 1.17 inches and Bethel, 1.15. Farther inland, where what’s left of winter snow remains, half an inch of rain fell.

“For the most part, 95 percent of our forecast area saw less than 2 inches, except for a couple of areas that saw in excess of 2 inches, and that caused some problems” for Knox and Lincoln counties, Apffel said Tuesday from his Gray office.

In New Hampshire and Maine, Androscoggin River storage facility and dam operators continued to release water upriver to accommodate rainfall and snow melt.

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In Rumford, whitewater between Pennacook Falls Dam and Memorial Bridge churned madly within its banks, still 5 feet below flood stage.

In Auburn, at nearly 11 feet high, the river was within 2 feet of flood stage. Androscoggin County Emergency Management Agency Director Joanne G. Potvin said any flooding potential failed to materialize.

“We lucked out with this one,” Potvin said Tuesday. “So, I think we’re going to stay high and dry. We are sitting pretty for our county at this time.”

Although flood stage for the Androscoggin at Auburn is 13 feet, Potvin said that when the water level reaches that point, emergency officials begin flood preparations. They know they’ve got a few feet to go before the river actually floods.

“We don’t get any flooding here in our county until we get to almost 17 feet. So, even though we get to 13 feet, 13 feet is just a number they tell us is flood stage. We have no problem at 13, nothing at 14, nothing at 15, but at 16 or 17, we begin to get water in the parking lot and roads blocked, so until it gets to 17 feet, we really don’t begin to sweat it that much,” Potvin said.

Despite 2008’s record snowfall, Potvin said the Androscoggin just barely scraped by flood stage last year, because rather than suddenly flush downriver with spring rains, upland snow melted and evaporated.

“We don’t flood on snow melt alone and we don’t get a flood with rain alone unless we get 6 or 7 inches of rain in a couple of hours. The combination of rapid snow melt and a lot of rain can give us flooding, like we had with the Flood of ’87,” Potvin said.

Her counterpart in Paris, EMA Director Scott Parker, said Tuesday that Oxford County also escaped flooding.

“The folks controlling the river did a great job,” Parker said of Androscoggin River Co. storage facilities and Brookfield Renewable Power LLC dam officials in Maine and New Hampshire.

“I’m glad we’re not in Knox County,” he said.


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