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Ice jams, new rain prompt northern Maine flood watch

FORT KENT, Maine — With new rainfall and river ice causing temporary backup of water in some locations, the National Weather Service issued a flood watch late Wednesday morning, April 12, for most of northern Maine. The watch is in effect until 2 a.m. Thursday. 

Residents in communities from Allagash to Greenville and from Van Buren to Houlton are advised to monitor weather forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action. Only “minor flooding” is anticipated, according the NWS.

With the release overnight of ice jams upriver, water in the St. John River in Fort Kent rose to 18.35 feet at 11 p.m., Tuesday. This was a spike of more than six feet in four hours, according to NWS data. Flood stage on the St. John, as measured at the Fort Kent gauging station, is 22.5 feet.

At 1:30 p.m. the St. John had crept up to nearly 15 feet after dropping to 13.72 feet at 5:30 a.m., following the overnight surge.

On the Fish River in Fort Kent, a maximum of 6.5 feet was recorded at 1:45 p.m. Flood stage on the Fish River is 11 feet.

At Riverside Park in Fort Kent the surge of water late Tuesday night had pushed chunks of river ice and shoreline snowbanks several yards onshore, partially inundating a boat launch parking area and part of a walking trail. Partial flooding at Riverside and other boat launch/recreation areas is a common spring occurrence in the area, even when river levels are below flood stage.

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