Mother Nature was back at it again Monday — only this time she drenched the region in rain rather than blanketing it in snow.

Much of Maine was soaked with anywhere from 1 to 3 inches while temperatures climbed above freezing throughout the day, leading to flood watches for everywhere except the state’s western mountains.

“This is the storm that hit California and when it came across the country it really opened up the gates,” said John Cannon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

According to Cannon, experts were closely monitoring several rivers and lakes for potential flooding due to ice jams Monday evening. One river — the Pemigewasset River in New Hampshire — was under a flood warning, with two other rivers — the Swift River in Roxbury and the Saco River in Conway — approaching flood stage.

Jackson, N.H. — home of the Saco River headwaters — had the highest reported rainfall with 3.6 inches. 

Rain and melting snow prompted the Maine Warden Service to urge people to check any ice before venturing on frozen water because the spring-like conditions, warm temperatures, substantial rainfall and heavy winds are weakening ice throughout the state.

In a news release issued Monday, Maine Warden Service Maj. Gregory Sanborn said heavy rain will either open the water, thin existing ice or create slush, adding that inlets and outlets will be dangerous due to runoff from rivers and streams.

“January thaws are not unusual,” Sanborn said. “However, most of Maine has not had a consistent stretch of subfreezing temperatures this winter to provide a thick layer of ice that can withstand this wet, warm spell. What may have been moderately safe ice this past weekend may be extremely treacherous this week.”

As far as weather-related accidents go, the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office handled four accidents throughout the day, including a crash on Route 4 in between Turner and Livermore. Police in Auburn handled just two crashes, while Lewiston officers handled four. Oxford County officials reported handling less than five crashes Monday, while authorities in Franklin County handled four crashes. 

Only one of the departments contacted reported any flooding. A dispatcher with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said there had been reports of flooding from Phillips, Farmington and Jay.

Cannon said that the storm system also brought with it heavy winds.
Portland reported wind gusts of up to 54 miles per hour, while Bath
reported 63 miles per hour.

Dave Phifer, a spokesman for Central Maine Power Co., said high winds and heavy rains led to more than 18,600 Mainers being in the dark Monday evening. He said that Waldo County saw the highest number of outages with 3,307 customers losing power. Androscoggin County ranked somewhere in the middle with 2,220 customers being in the dark Monday, and Oxford had the lowest number of outages with only 185 customers losing power.  

Cannon said temperatures would again be mild for Tuesday —
hanging around the low 40s — but would turn cold Tuesday night and
continue to dip throughout the week. 

Robert Cerulli of Lewiston navigates his way down an icy, rain-soaked sidewalk Monday on Oak Street in Lewiston. “Walking around town is pretty hazardous; I can’t wait till summer,” said Cerulli.

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