- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Weather forecasters who are keeping a wary eye on Maine’s frozen rivers said Thursday there’s an above-normal threat of flooding and ice jams for most of the state over the next few weeks.

Temperatures approaching 60 degrees on Friday - and followed by rain and snow - could cause problems this weekend, officials told the River Flow Advisory Commission. After that, a forecast for cooler temperatures without major rainfall over the coming week to 10 days will produce a slow but steady melting of the snowpack.

Nonetheless, officials remain concerned enough about the flood threat to schedule another meeting on April 16.

“It’s getting close to conditions that’ll create rapid snowmelt,” said Tom Hawley, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service bureau in Gray.

After the meeting, Gov. Paul LePage signed an executive order updating the state emergency response and disaster recovery teams. The order is aimed at ensuring proper procedures and people are in place to deal with all aspects if there’s major flooding - preparedness, response and recovery, the governor said.

“Maine’s emergency management team of state, county and local personnel and resources is well-prepared. We can’t control Mother Nature, but we will do all we can to protect life and property,” LePage said.

Heavy rainfall is the biggest factor when it comes to spring flooding and ice jams on rivers in Maine. But the melting snowpack and ice are also big contributors.

Even though some fields are clear of snow, there’s still plenty of deep snow in the woods and mountainous areas that serve as headwaters for the major rivers, officials said.

The snowpack is deeper than normal for early April, thanks to colder-than-normal temperatures.

“I’ve been describing this to some people as saying the calendar is broken. I think it’s off by three weeks,” U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist Greg Stewart said.

So far, stream flows are below normal as the snowpack holds the water.

Coast Guard officials reported Thursday that they have successfully broken ice on the Kennebec River north to Gardiner and the Penobscot River north to Bangor in the past two weeks. Thick ice stymied previous efforts last month to break ice on the Penobscot River.

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