The second meeting of the State River Flow Advisory Commission just ended. The following is a report from the several members on the Commission.
Photo from "30 years after the 'April Fools' Flood of '87", Andrew Rice, Sun Journal, March 31, 2017
Per United States Geological Survey – “…..streamflow was normal for the month of March; …..Androscoggin River is within the 25% to 75% percent of normal for this time of year; …..historical peak is in the normal range for this time of year and has just started on a slight uptick; …..as for groundwater levels, though we have seen some improvement in drought conditions, York County is still in the abnormally dry to severe drought status; …..Range Pond in Poland is still below normal and a spring recharge has not yet been observed; …..there is enough snow left to cause some change which we didn’t have last year but since it was so far below normal in Oct/Nov/Dec, any change noted will likely be in the very low normal range; …..river ice conditions – little to no ice except in northern Maine and what is left is of very poor quality; …..this week there were 93 snow observations – snow depths vary from 1” at the coast to 4’ north of Rangeley; …..water content in the snowpack is in the 50% range statewide which is considered to be normal for this time of year;…..”
"Lewiston Falls" Photo from "Fifty News Pictures of Maine's Greatest Flood" from the Lewiston Daily Sun, March 1936
Per DEP and River Basin Managers – “ …..statewide reservoirs are 70% to 80% of full range and on target for spring fill – no flooding issues are expected; the Androscoggin River reservoir is at 44% which is slightly above the long-term average of 35% for this time of year but, overall, is in a very good position for additional storage conditions and is capable of absorbing the current runoff from the snowpack that is left; …..”
"Little Androscoggin - Main St & South Main St" Photo from "Fifty News Pictures of Maine's Greatest Flood" from the Lewiston Daily Sun, March 1936
Per National Weather Service Forecast Office in Gray, ME – “ …..the 6-10 day and 8-10 day forecasts call for above normal temps and normal to below normal precipitation; …..daytime temp on Mon expected to be in the mid-50s, on Tues mid-60s and on Wed 60-65; …..nighttime temps will be above freezing in the 40sfor these three nights causing about half of the remaining snow to be gone by end of next week; …..the saving grace is that there is very little rain in the extended forecast; …..the Androscoggin River may reach minor flooding levels to flood stage or slightly above on Wednesday or Thursday (official flood stage is 13 feet – absolutely no problems for this County at 13 feet); …..REMEMBER: MAJOR FLOODING IS RAIN-DRIVEN!; …..temps on Thursday and Friday will return to normal in the daytime and fall back below freezing at night; …..NWS is not overly concerned for flooding at this time; …..the overall flood threat is high for this time of year but, devoid of rain, we are in good shape to take the current runoff; …..there are no indications for a major rain event in the next 10-14 days; …..”
Image at Main St & South Main St from Google Earth, April 2017
We are now monitoring the river flow twice a day and will increase that monitoring as needed. Keep in mind that National Weather Service will issue a Flood Watch when they expect the river to reach 11 feet; a Flood Warning will be issued if they expect the river to go to 13 feet which is official flood stage. We have no problems until the river level reaches 17 feet and if there is any indication it would reach or exceed 17 feet, we will begin to issue information on protective measures to be taken, including the potential for evacuation. For areas near small rivers and streams, do not attempt to walk in any high water that may be across the road and do not drive in any water across the road – keep in mind TURN AROUND – DON’T DROWN!!
"Main St, Auburn looking toward Court St" Photo from "Fifty News Pictures of Maine's Greatest Flood" from the Lewiston Daily Sun, March 1936
Here are the current river conditions:
Snowpack depth (how deep is the snow in the headwaters region): 36” to 42” (an increase of nearly twice since March 20 with the additional snowfall)
Equivalent Water Content (how much water is in the snowpack): 7” to 11”
Change in Water Content between March 20 and April 6: less than 1” to an inch
Snowpack Density (how ‘ripe’ is the snow – snow can no longer hold onto water when it reaches a density of 0.48 or greater = runoff): 0.28 to 0.32 – about half as dense as it was March 20 so it has dried somewhat
Current River Flow: 5.14’ = 7,850 CFS leaving plenty of room for runoff – prediction is for 7.9’ by 3 AM Sunday
Main St, Auburn looking toward Court St, Image from Google Earth, April 2017
We will keep you advised on any significant changes as the days and next week progresses.
Joanne G. Potvin, Director
"Taking refugees from houses in boat on Oxford St" Photo from "Fifty News Pictures of Maine's Greatest Flood" from the Lewiston Daily Sun, March 1936
Oxford St, Image from Google Earth, April 2017
1987 April Fool's Flood at Livermore Falls. The forebay breached and the Livermore Falls Recreation Field was washed downstream. Image from Wausau Paper, Otis Mill, 1987
Turn Around, Don't Drown!
"1896 Flood at Hallowell, Maine" Image from the Maine Memory Network