Friday, March 7, 2014
By Randy Billings email@example.com
PORTLAND - Labor Day came to a soggy conclusion Monday night as tourists poured out of southern Maine after a day of pouring rain.
Widespread showers and thunderstorms across northern New England caused minor flooding and some areas reported more than 4 inches of rain from periodic downpours.
Most areas of southern Maine, which were under flash flood watches for most of the day, received between 2 and 3 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Minor flooding was reported in portions of western Maine.
Weather service meteorologist Tom Hawley said radar indicated that 5 to 6 inches fell Monday morning in an area stretching from roughly Conway, N.H., into western Maine near Bethel.
The rainfall also was heavy from the Freeport area to Bath and Wiscasset.
The weather service said early rainfall reports showed that 4.6 inches had fallen in Pownal, with nearby Freeport reporting nearly 4 inches.
Durham recorded 4.23 inches of rain as of 4:30 p.m, according to the weather service.
As of 7 p.m., 4.16 inches had fallen in Bath, while about 3.9 inches was recorded in Wiscasset. Augusta and the Portland International Jetport received 3 inches and 2.5 inches of rain, respectively, according to the weather service.
James Brown, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Gray, said southern New Hampshire got hit the hardest. "I think they're going to be an inch or two higher than we are," Brown predicted.
The only known reports of flooding in Maine were in Oxford County.
A dispatcher with the Oxford County Sheriff's Office said nearly a half-dozen roads had to be closed throughout the day -- several of which remained on the "breaking point" Monday evening.
Flooding closed Meadow Brook Bridge, located near Flat Road in Bethel, and East Shore Road, located next to Worthley Pond in Peru, into Monday evening.
One lane of Allen Hill Road in Oxford was washed out, but the other lane remained open, while Valley Road near Route 219 in Sumner was temporarily closed because water flooded one lane.
No flooding was reported in Cumberland, York or Androscoggin counties, according to dispatchers.
The weather forecast for the Labor Day weekend -- the unofficial end of summer -- was less than ideal, but that didn't stop the tourists from coming -- and going.
About 60,000 vehicles passed through the York toll plaza heading north on Friday and Saturday to start the weekend, which was on par with 2012, said Daniel Morin, spokesman for the Maine Turnpike Authority.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, however, only 23,500 vehicles had passed through the York toll booth going south, which was between 200 and 300 fewer vehicles an hour than last year, Morin said.
Traffic was stop-and-go at times and still backed up at the toll booth, but not as much as usual, he said. Traffic from 5 to 7 p.m. was heavier than usual, with 7,000 vehicles heading south through the toll both. "They're starting to flow through pretty quickly," he said.
Morin attributed the slower-than-usual exodus to the rainy weather, which hadn't resulted in any major accidents on the turnpike.
"I'm knocking on wood," he said Monday evening. "I'm absolutely amazed we haven't had one travel alert for an accident."
Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: