Maine’s largest city and much of its coastline recorded their rainiest July since 1915, a wet but somewhat lopsided month that ended a long-running coastal drought while leaving inland areas comparatively dry.

Portland recorded 9.53 inches of rain last month, according to preliminary tallies from the National Weather Service. That’s been surpassed only once in rainfall records for the city – in 1915, when the total was 10.84 inches.

For comparison, the third-highest July rainfall total in Portland was 8.6 inches, in 2009.

“Essentially what we had all month was broad troughiness,” Hunter Tubbs, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Gray, said in an interview.

That is, a long trough of low atmospheric pressure sat over the Northeast for much of July, inviting in storm patterns that dropped bucketloads of rain. Add to that some rain from Tropical Storm Elsa, which passed near New York and New Jersey, and you’ve got a record amount of precipitation.

Flash flood warnings were in effect late last week as storms swept Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Some neighborhoods in Bellows Falls, Vermont, reported waist-high water, and police in southern New Hampshire rescued people from flooded homes in two separate towns.


The rain was likely welcome news for coastal farmers, but less so for businesses that depend on outdoor tourism. Much of coastal Maine has suffered through a long-running drought that, according to Tubbs, is now officially at an end along the coast.

Just a month earlier, the National Weather Service reported that most of Maine and New England were experiencing drought conditions, with wells drying up and water levels lower than usual on some rivers.

If July’s heavy rainfall at all dampened tourists’ enthusiasm for camping, that was offset by the influx of visits spurred by the lifting of most pandemic-era restrictions on travel and other safety precautions. Longtime campers this summer have reported trouble finding spots at their favorite campgrounds.

“The day I make the camping reservations is the most stressful day of the year. But this year was the worst,” Amy DeCapua, a regular visitor with her family to Sebago Lake State Park Campground, told the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram recently.

A woman walks her dog Friday along Main Street in early July as heavy rain falls in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

DeCapua’s family has been coming to the lakeside location for 40 years, but this year the campsite was so crowded they had to settle for sites along the road, not the water. And it’s not just campgrounds. Maine’s state parks are on pace to break last year’s attendance record of 3 million visits.

Despite the rainfall record, inland areas are still in drought. The Rangeley area, as well as border areas in Oxford and Franklin counties, were still under “severe” drought as of late last week.

“Unfortunately, essentially the same areas that have been getting the rain are continuing to get the rain,” Tubbs said.

A storm system that was expected to arrive Sunday into early Monday may drop some much-needed rain in those areas, however, Tubbs said.

Portland also recorded a particularly cool July last month, at an average daily temperature of 67.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The overall average is 71 degrees, and the coolest on record was back in 1962, at an average of 64 degrees.

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