A man walks a dog Thursday along the bulkhead on the Kennebec River in Hallowell. Heavy rain and powerful winds are expected Friday, creating potential for flooding. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — A storm system bringing dangerously cold temperatures to much of the United States is expected to bring heavy rain, powerful wind gusts and a fast cool down to central Maine, prompting officials to urge residents to prepare for minor to moderate flooding for the Kennebec River and the possibility of power outages over the Christmas weekend.

“The thing everyone will see first is the probably some rain or snow flurries starting the day off,” Greg Cornwell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said Thursday. “Winds should increase as the day goes on, and it will probably be pretty gusty when people head out the door Friday.”

By Friday afternoon, wind gusts are expected to reach 50 mph to 70 mph, Cornwell said, and by Friday night, the temperature is expected to plummet, bringing a flash freeze and icy conditions Saturday, accompanied by extremely cold temperatures expected to persist through the holiday weekend.

Ahead of the storm’s arrival, Central Maine Power Co. announced it was bringing in additional crews to help restore power in the event of widespread outages. The Maine state government also announced state offices will be closed Friday.

Emergency management officials urged people to check on their neighbors to make sure they are safe, and for people to contact their cities and towns if they need help.

“With the recent snow, we’re concerned that snow may be clogging storm drains, causing some street flooding or flash flooding with that heavy rain coming down,” Cornwell said.


River flooding presents a trickier situation, Cornwell said. The combination of rain and snowmelt means runoff will flow into streams and rivers across the region, but the quickly falling temperature Friday night is expected to slow that as the water begins to freeze by Saturday morning.

As of Thursday, the Kennebec River was forecast to reach at least minor flood stage in north Sidney and Augusta by early Saturday, and reach the moderate flood stage in Hallowell by Saturday afternoon.

A flood marker on Water Street in Hallowell. Heavy rain and powerful winds are expected this weekend across Maine. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Along the river, municipalities were making preparations to clear low-lying waterfront areas in the event of flooding.

In Hallowell, the Police Department said it will suspend the winter parking ban and allow overnight parking on Water Street for vehicles that routinely park on Front Street.

In Gardiner, officials said they will be watching where Cobbosseecontee Stream flows into the Kennebec River to see whether water will start backing up into the Arcade parking lot, which is used by Water Street businesses and residents.

Chief James Toman of the Gardiner Police Department said when the river reaches 18 feet in Augusta, it generally rises to about 13 feet in Gardiner, and that is when water starts to flow into the parking lot. Each additional foot means the water starts to creep closer to the back of the Water Street buildings.


In an advisory to local emergency managers, Art True, director of the Kennebec County  Emergency Management Agency, suggested they prepare for the possibility of having to open warming centers if the storm causes widespread power outages.

“I have spoken with several towns,” True said, “and my advice to them was to dust off the plans and get ready for it, because it’s a very good possibility you may want to open one.”

Cornwell said about 2 inches of rain is expected to fall in the Augusta area, with 2.5 inches expected north of Augusta. He said he expects central and northern Somerset County to receive several inches of snow.

High pressure is expected to move into the area after the storm, Cornwell said, keeping conditions calm next week.

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