The heaviest rain from a storm that reached southern Maine this morning will be moving out of Cumberland County by 1 or 2 p.m., a meteorologist said around noon.

An average of between 2 and 3 inches fell this morning in Cumberland and York counties. Some coastal areas, like Ferry Beach in Saco, had gotten 4 inches before noon, said Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Gray.

Schwibs said the National Weather Service is not aware of any flooding yet and doesn’t expect any in the area.

Following a winter with little snow fall and a dry April, he said, the rain is welcome, and should help lower the fire danger and raise the level of bodies of water.

“We did need a storm like this to help get us back on track,” he said.

Rain pummeled the region this morning, bringing a sloppy commute for drivers and much-needed relief for firefighters.

At mid-morning, the National Weather Service reported 3.14 inches of rain had already fallen in Cape Neddick.

April has been an extremely dry month. As of Sunday night, Portland had received just .32 inches of rain for the month of April, according to James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray

Brown said the rain was being generated by what some forecasters were calling a spring nor’easter that was slowly moving up the Atlantic Coast on Sunday.

Those rains intensified overnight as the storm arrived in Maine, unleashing a steady downpour this morning.

On Sunday night, states to the south and west of Maine were getting hammered by the storm, with forecasters calling for the threat of thunderstorms, heavy downpours and power outages.

In Maine, winds were expected to gust up to about 30 mph today, but probably not strong enough to cause power outages, Brown said, adding, “you will be lucky if you hear a clap of thunder.”

The rain contrasts with the dryness of April so far. By the end of last week, warm, dry conditions had helped to push the number of wildfires in Maine to three times the number that had been seen at this time last year.

As of April 18, the Maine Forest Service had investigated 229 fires, which had burned a total of 270 acres. Last year around this time, 76 fires had burned 45 acres.

Scott Doyle, a captain with the town of New Gloucester’s Fire Department, relaxed a little Sunday.

“This rain is going to help out immensely. It’s going to soak right in,” said Doyle. “Everything is going to change. By the time Thursday rolls around, it will be time to get your lawn mowers out.”

Doyle and his fellow New Gloucester firefighters had to spend Saturday afternoon fighting a brush fire that burned about an acre of land off Woodman Road.

A spark from a lawn tractor is believed to have set the field on fire, an occurrence that has become all too common for small departments such as New Gloucester that rely solely on volunteers.

In New Gloucester alone, the fire department has been asked to extinguish more than 10 brush fires this month.

“That’s a lot of fires for a small department,” Doyle said. “As gorgeous as the weather has been in April, we had to pay the price for it.”

Doyle said Sunday and today’s rain should eliminate the fire hazards that have been in effect.

Last Wednesday was a Class 4 day, the second-highest level of fire danger, according to the Maine Forest Service. Sunday was a Class 2 day, which signals moderate fire danger.

The forecast for the rest of the week looks to be unsettled with periods of sunshine and showers, Brown said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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