January 7

Cars skid off Augusta area roads as temperatures rise and rain falls

Police ask motorists to stay off roads as standing water and ice make travel difficult, and emergency officials warn it will all freeze up with overnight dropping temperatures.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Cars skidded off roads into ditches and snowbanks as central Maine commuters dealt with rain, ice, fog and street flooding Monday.

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ELEMENTS: Michael Johnston attempts to push John Thiele’s car out of a snow bank Monday in Hallowell. Drivers encountered hazardous conditions across Maine while heavy rain fell on already slick roads.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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ELEMENTS: State Trooper Sam Tlumac directs traffic away from icy roads Monday morning on Northern Avenue in Farmingdale. Drivers encountered icy roads slickened by rain compelling authorities to close several roads across the state.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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About an inch and a quarter of rain fell by mid-afternoon Monday at Augusta State Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Kennebec County Emergency Management Director Richard Beausoleil said nearly every municipality in the county was dealing with flooding, because of snow and ice blocking storm drains, though he said none had asked county officials for assistance. He said he had heard no advisories warning the Kennebec River could flood, but said that’s something officials were going to keep an eye on.

He noted once temperatures drop, things are going to freeze.

“Everything is going to turn to cement,” Beausoleil said. “If you don’t have to go out, don’t. But if you do, make preparations. If you have a set of those creepers (attachments for shoes to increase traction) dig them out and use them. Even if you’re just going out to get the mail. It’s better than having a broken hip.”

MaineGeneral Medical Center had a significant increase in the number of emergency room visits for slips and falls on the ice Monday, in both Augusta and Waterville, according to Diane Peterson, spokeswoman for MaineGeneral.

While temperatures reached the 40s on Monday, the forecast for Tuesday is for mostly sunny conditions with a high near 17 degrees and with lows Tuesday night getting down to 1. Wednesday looks mostly sunny, with a high, again, of 17 and a low of 6 Wednesday night.

Accidents on Monday in Augusta were reported on Winthrop Street, Old Belgrade Road near the new roundabout, Leighton Road, East Chestnut Street near Middle Street, Old Winthrop Road near Leighton Road and on Western Avenue at Sewall Street early in the day.

Augusta police asked people to limit travel unless absolutely necessary and, if that is not possible, to avoid hilly areas and low-lying areas where flooding is probable. Officials noted sand and salt was not adhering to road surfaces because of the heavy rain, and there were a number of areas where plugged storm drains flooding city streets.

There was standing water on many roads in and around Augusta.

In Winthrop, Bowdoin Street between Norcross Point and Green Street was closed after a frozen storm drain caused the street to flood in front of American Legion Post 40, next to the town beach. Capt. Ryan Frost, of Winthrop police, said the town’s public works crews were already busy clearing other roads so Winthrop Utilities District workers responded and cleared the road with a backhoe and pumped the water out of the road.

Winthrop police also assisted as Department of Transportation workers cleared snow from a drain to eliminate flooding on U.S. Route 202 at Annabessacook Lake, directed traffic around downed trees on Memorial Drive and responded, with public works, to street flooding at multiple other locations. Winthrop police covered two accidents, in which there were no injuries, in North Monmouth, Frost said, because Monmouth Police were tied up with other calls, including a fire on Rocky Point Road.

Frost said late Monday afternoon no roads were closed in Winthrop, but motorists should drive cautiously because there was a lot of water on the roads that will freeze when the temperatures drop.

About 375 Maine Department of Transportation trucks were out treating roads and clearing culverts that were inundated with debris and water flowing from melting snowbanks, said Ted Talbot, department spokesman.

At two Interstate 95 off ramps in Augusta – exits 109 and 113 – standing water had already begun to freeze Monday, Talbot said.

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Additional Photos

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ELEMENTS: Wes Sproul walks over ice Monday on Water Street in Augusta while getting a cup of coffee. Several inches of rain fell on snow and crust, creating hazardous conditions outside.

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A five vehicle accident on Leighton Road in Augusta, closed the road for about an hour Monday morning.

Photo courtesy of Scott Dunbar/Augusta Fire Department


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