July 2, 2013

After water-soaked June, rain continues to pound Maine

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Any hope that July might bring a new weather pattern to Maine was quickly washed away Monday by driving rains and flash flood warnings.

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Quinn Sawyer, 4, left, and her sister, Summer, 6, take protection from the rain with their colorful umbrella as they walk on Moulton Street in the Old Port with their mother, Jessi Sawyer of Weld, and other family members Monday.

Gordon Chibroski, Staff Photographer

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The rainy July 1 followed a waterlogged June, the seventh-wettest on record in Portland. The city received 7.32 inches of rain in June, nearly twice the normal total of 3.79 inches.

On Monday afternoon, downpours delivered close to an inch of rain in just minutes in some parts of York and Cumberland counties, prompting flash flood warnings and cellphone emergency alerts. 

The rain came down briefly at a rate of 4 to 5 inches an hour in some isolated areas. Some parts of southern Maine recorded as much as 3 inches of rain, close to the average July rainfall of 3.61 inches in Portland.

Rumford, in Oxford County, reported 3.5 inches of rain.

No major flooding or damage was reported as of Monday night, although a flash flood watch remained in effect.

The downpours put a damper on construction work and summer activities, including Little League baseball and softball tournaments that had more rainouts than normal in June.

"We're losing games left and right because of the weather," said Steve Cole, state Little League director. Many games have been called off even when it hasn't been raining because fields are too wet, he said.

The National Weather Service in Gray issued a flash flood warning for parts of York and Cumberland counties Monday afternoon. A flash flood watch remained in effect overnight for all but the northernmost part of the state.

Coastal areas got drenched Monday. Portland received 0.77 inches of rain, Kennebunkport got 1.79 inches, and Standish and Saco reported 1.69 and 1.62 inches, respectively, according to the weather service. An inch of rain fell in York from 1 to 2 p.m.

Michael Cempa, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Gray, said the area is stuck between a high-pressure weather system over the western Atlantic and low pressure to the west. The result is a southerly flow delivering warm, humid air to Maine from the Gulf of Mexico.

Nicole Clegg, spokeswoman for the city of Portland, said the city got reports of isolated street flooding on Park Avenue near Deering Oaks and on Commercial Street near Becky's Diner. The roads were not closed, and the flooding, caused by the intensity of the rainfall, subsided shortly after it was reported early Monday afternoon.

The rain has affected road projects across the state during the short construction season, said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. A paving project on Route 3 in Bar Harbor is supposed to be completed by Tuesday, but that is now unlikely because of the rain, he said.

Dealing with delays because of the weather is nothing new, but frustrating nonetheless, Talbot said.

A $1.1 million road project on Route 302 in Windham is scheduled to begin July 14 and end in mid-August, but that date could change if the weather doesn't cooperate, he said.

"We try to do everything we can within that window to get all these jobs completed," Talbot said. "We can do excavation and sidewalks in the rain, but not paving. It's unfortunate we can only pave while it's the busiest travel time in the state."

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:


Twitter: grahamgillian

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Additional Photos

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Tourists dressed in a variety of rain gear cross Commercial Street on Monday as rain falls at the beginning of the Fourth of July week.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Todd Zukowski of Portland takes cover under an umbrella while walking along Temple Street in Portland during Monday's rain.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer


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