AUGUSTA – A lack of deep snow across much of Maine hasn’t diminished the flood threat this spring, and the right combination of rain and melting snow still pose a serious threat of flooding, a panel of weather and water-management experts said Thursday.

While southern Maine was lashed by rain last week, heavy snow to the north lifted the snowpack to the normal range at the headwaters of the Kennebec, Androscoggin and Penobscot rivers, the Maine River Flow Advisory Commission said.

Ice jams also remain on Piscataquis and Franklin counties’ rivers, even though a major ice jam on the Kennebec River has dissipated. Ice also remains in Aroostook County rivers.

“There may be a sense of complacency that the flood risk is over because there is very little snow in the southern part of the state, and the very visible ice jam in the Kennebec is gone,” said commission co-chairman Bob Lent of the U.S. Geological Survey. “But risk factors for spring flooding are still there.”

Overall, the spring flood risk is normal, meaning there’s still a risk of flooding, especially if there’s heavy rain, the commission said. Risk factors in the spring include depth of snow, whether the ground can absorb water, and river ice.

The commission described this winter’s conditions as “topsy-turvy” with far more snow in Washington, D.C., than Maine. With spring approaching, managers are reducing levels in the state’s reservoirs to catch runoff from rainfall and snowmelt during spring flooding.

Smaller river basins do not have storage dams, so water can rise quickly in those areas after heavy rain, the commission warned.

The commission’s members represent eight major river basin management operations, seven state and two federal agencies and the University of Maine.


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