March 7, 2013

Coast Guard cutters a no-go on the Kennebec River this year

STAFF REPORT

Kennebec River watchers won't see the familiar site of Coast Guard cutters breaking up ice this spring, because the lower part of the river has little or no ice, the Maine Emergency Management Agency said Thursday.

"River ice is below normal in most areas of the state," the agency said in a statement.

The Maine River Flow Advisory Commission met in Augusta Thursday to discuss stream flows and snowpack and judged the potential for spring flooding to be normal.

"Today's conditions are a snapshot for today," said Rob McAleer, director of MEMA. "It looks like conditions will be stable for at least the next couple of weeks, but one rainstorm at the wrong time could cause major flooding."

The agency also reports that mandated federal cuts -- commonly called sequestration -- could cause seven to 12 stream gauges to be shut down between April 1 and Oct. 1. Although no gauges needed to forecast floods will be shut down, the gauges are used for scientific or environmental purposes, said Robert Lent, director of the Maine Office of the U.S. Geological Survey New England Water Science Center.

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