Following weeks of dry weather, Maine drenched with several inches of rain

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People wait for a Metro bus Monday at a stop on Congress Street in Portland. Widespread showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue through Wednesday, mainly during afternoon and evening hours. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

After weeks of dry weather and a lack of rain, the skies opened up late Sunday night into Monday, dumping several inches of rain throughout Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

The rainfall comes on the heels of the National Drought Monitor, a weekly publication by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which designated large swaths of Maine as “abnormally dry.”

Before Monday, Maine had been stuck in a record dry spell the likes of which hadn’t been seen since 1871. As of June 21, less than a half-inch of rain had fallen since mid-May, the National Weather Service said.

“It only took five weeks to get into drought conditions and the National Weather Service is predicting higher than average temperatures and lower than average rainfall for the next 30 days,” said Bob Lent, associate director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Maine Water Science Center in Augusta. “If that’s the case, it won’t take long for any benefit we gain from this rain to evaporate.”

The National Weather Service in Gray posted a hazardous weather outlook Monday afternoon for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, warning that “showers and a few thunderstorms are likely through (the) evening” and that “heavy rainfall is expected with the thunderstorms.”

According to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, which displays observed precipitation throughout the United States, Androscoggin County received between 2 to 4.5 inches of rain through Monday evening.

In Oxford and Franklin counties, the rainfall reached up to three inches in some places, with most towns receiving around an inch and a half of rain.

Despite the swift and steady rainfall on Monday, William Watson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said it was unlikely that the rainfall would result in flash flooding in central and western Maine the way it has further south or near the Maine/New Hampshire border.

Watson said that most of Maine can expect the rain to continue through Tuesday and Wednesday morning, though it’s unlikely to be steady.

“It’ll be showers, generally,” Watson said. “It won’t be a constant, consistent downpour.”

Watson said that with dry conditions, “if you get a lot of rain in a short amount of time, you can get flash flooding.”

“You saw some of that in portions of Maine and New Hampshire on Sunday evening,” Watson explained. “The rain tends to just run off rather than soak into the ground.”

Throughout Monday afternoon and evening, Watson said that there were a few spots in Maine that had flash flooding, but none of it in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties..

“The rivers are definitely higher than they were a couple of days ago, but I’m not aware of any flooding issues in the area,” Watson said.

Portland Press Herald writers Meredith Goad and Kelly Bouchard contributed to this report.

2020-06-30 01:21:00

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