June 4, 2012

Drenching sets rainfall records

Portland receives 5.5 inches in two days and other areas get more, flooding roads and swelling rivers.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Portland set rainfall records Saturday and Sunday, with more than 5.5 inches of rain inundating the city and surrounding areas.

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Rick Higgins, a Scarborough police/fire volunteer, keeps tabs Sunday on the rising water from the Nonesuch River on Gorham Road.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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The storm began Saturday morning, intensified Saturday night and did not let up through the day on Sunday. It forced authorities to shut down flooded roads, close bridges and issue flood warnings for several rivers in southern Maine.

Portland received 1.94 inches of rain on Sunday, breaking the previous June 3 record of 1.42 inches, set in 2006. On Saturday, 3.63 inches fell, washing away the previous June 2 record of 2.65 inches in 2001.

Some towns, like Bath and Durham, got drenched even more, receiving 7.5 inches and 6.7 inches, respectively, over the weekend. Portland's total was 5.57 inches.

"The storm had its origins in the tropics," said Chris Legrow, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray. "It (the rain) was on an open conveyor belt brought here by southern winds."

Portland police reported some instances of extreme street flooding during the height of the storm Saturday night.

Most of the street flooding occurred on Marginal Way near Preble Street, where police said more than 1 foot of water accumulated. Several motorists had to have their cars pulled out of the water by tow trucks.

"People were driving through standing water that stalled their cars out," said Lt. Robert Doherty. "Once public works put some barricades up, it took care of the problem."

Doherty said police would be keeping a close eye on waterfront streets Sunday night because of an astronomical high tide scheduled to occur at 10:48 p.m.

Legrow said unusually high tides combined with storm surge will likely cause some coastal flooding.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings Sunday for several major rivers, including the Presumpscot, the Saco, Swift and Kennebec.

Ten canoeists had to be rescued from the Saco River around 6:30 a.m. Sunday after becoming stranded near Walkers Bridge.

"Everybody recovered and accounted for. Another great job by Fryeburg fire, police, rescue and the Cumberland Oxford dive team," said a posting on the Bridgton Fire and Rescue Department's Facebook page.

The Cumberland County sheriff's dispatch center received numerous reports of flooding on local roads, including in Gorham, Cumberland, Windham, New Gloucester, Gray, Westbrook, Yarmouth and Falmouth. By midafternoon Sunday, much of the water had receded.

In Scarborough, sections of the northbound lane on Payne Road were shut down because of water on the road.

Minor flooding was also reported in York County, including in Alfred, where several roads were temporarily closed as water inched up at several bridges.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it had to check on three or four boats that broke loose from their moorings Sunday. Those boats became dislodged by high tides and heavy winds.

Legrow said the rain will continue through today, but should be nowhere near as intense as it was this weekend.

"We should get a quarter inch or less of rain. It will be more of a hit-or-miss-type shower situation as opposed to a steady rain," he said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby contributed to this report. 

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



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