PORTLAND (AP) — Spring is getting its official welcome in Maine from the Coast Guard breaking up winter ice.

Tugs boats are scheduled Wednesday to tackle winter ice in the main channel of the Kennebec River from Merrymeeting Bay to the town of Gardiner. Opening the channel to prevent flooding from melting snow is a sign that mud season is here.

The Coast Guard coordinates its efforts with government agencies that monitor the risk of spring flooding.

Four ice-breaking tugs will cut through the ice over several days. The Coast Guard says clearing the thick ice gives the water a direct path to the ocean.

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