The cold temperatures this winter have allowed the snow to stick around. According to Corey Bogel of the National Weather Service in Caribou, the snow depth is 36 inches, which is the deepest snow pack during this time since 1963. This large snow pack has raised the flood potential to above normal.
“If you were to melt down all of the water content that’s in that snow it would be about seven to nine inches worth of liquid water,” says Bogel.
Usually at this time of year there’s only about a foot and a half of snow on the ground, not three feet. So if all of this snow were to melt at once, it would be like getting two months worth of rain at one time.
“So it could lead to things like basement flooding if you’re prone to that. And then there’s the risk too that as all that water flows into the rivers, that the rivers are going to rise, and you could have river flooding, and or ice jams that forms along the rivers,” says Bogel.
But according to the National Weather Service, temperatures should remain below average through the first of April, but Darren Woods of the Aroostook County EMA says, they are preparing for anything.
“Some things we are doing is just increased communication between the communities, so the ones that are upstream communicating with those that are downstream, and the more vulnerable areas,” says Woods.
Woods says they are also using new equipment that allows them to communicate river conditions on both sides of the border. Even though temperatures look to remain below normal through the 1st, April is known for lots of ups and downs in temperatures. Which could be problematic.
“Heavy rain, and a rapid warm up. That would be our worst case scenario in terms of both ice jam flooding and just flooding in general,” says Bogel.
The best case scenario would be to have a gradual warm-up so temps that get above freezing during the day, and below freezing at night. Once the snow does begin to melt, Woods says to be careful.
“We just ask that people stay vigilant. Keep an eye to the rivers and the streams, and stay away from the ice jams. We just want people to know that it is not safe for them, and it’s not safe for our first responders who may have to go after them,” says Woods.
Bogel adds that even though the flood potential is above normal, it doesn’t mean a flood will necessarily occur. If you would like to keep track of flood advisories, you can visit the Aroostook Emergency Management Agency Facebook page.