AUGUSTA — While projections show the biggest effects of Hurricane Lee in Maine are expected to be along the state’s long coastline this weekend, central Maine communities are being advised to prepare for wind and rain to sweep through the region.

Flash flooding and the flooding of small streams are the most likely impacts for central Maine as of Wednesday, said meteorologist Sarah Thunberg with the National Weather Service in Gray.

“The main rivers will rise, but it looks like they’ll stay within their banks,” Thunberg said. “We’re more concerned about small streams and brooks that don’t have as much capacity to hold water.”

Following the first Maine Emergency Management briefing Wednesday, the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency advised cities and towns to start preparing now.

“One of the big preparations you can start is to take photos of your infrastructure (roads, culverts, bridges, berms, docks, etc.) to document their current status,” Theo Marshall, emergency planner with the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency, told local officials via email Wednesday. “This is imperative if you have ongoing projects since the May Day storm to document what damage the hurricane does vs. what was already damaged previously.”

One of the highlighted concerns, Marshall said, is the amount of rain that central Maine has received this year and the possibility that trees could be uprooted, bringing power outages across the region.


Hurricane Lee could be either a category 1 hurricane or a tropical storm by the time it reaches Maine. It is expected to reach central Maine by about midnight Friday and continue into Saturday.

Winds across the region could gust to speeds of 40 mph to 45 mph late Friday night and into Saturday.

“Normally, that’s not that big a deal, but there’s leaves on the trees,” said meteorologist John Cannon with the National Weather Service in Gray. “And we’re going to get some rain. Between the wind, the leaves and the wet ground, we may get some limbs down and some trees uprooted.”

The wet soil, which has been saturated with rainfall throughout the week, will also increase the likelihood of rapid runoff.

Cannon said the storm could bring about an inch of rain. But that comes after a rainy late spring and summer in central Maine.

Augusta has received 35.31 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1, he said, which is 7.99 inches above the normal precipitation of 27.32 inches for the same time period.


About 5 inches of that rain came in the April 30-May 1 storm that brought flooding to the Kennebec River and its tributaries in central Maine, resulting in a presidential federal disaster declaration in July. While that declaration covered several counties, Kennebec County was the most affected.

In Skowhegan, Michael Smith, emergency management director for Somerset County, said Wednesday that he’s monitoring reports from the National Weather Service for the time being.

For the inland counties, he said, officials are waiting to see what the storm’s intensity will be closer to its expected landfall.

“The path kind of moves a little bit, yet the storm is getting a little bigger, so we’re just king of watching what the impact will be,” Smith said.

Cannon said this storm bears little resemblance to the October 2017 storm that blasted through Maine, knocking out power for large swaths of the state for days.

“Those winds were screaming out of the south and that was a storm that moved right into central Maine,” he said, noting that it would have moved right up the Kennebec River valley. “This storm is going to miss Maine most likely just to our east, and that means we’ll be on the back side, the weaker side, with northwest winds. It will be a different direction, different wind speeds, different scenario.”

The Weather Service is now updating wind forecasts every three hours with information from the National Hurricane Center and will update forecasts regularly, he said.

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