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Maine braces for potentially serious coastal flooding with Saturday storm

Flooding in Kennebunkport on Wednesday Jan. 10, 2024.
Carol Bousquet
Maine Public
Flooding in Kennebunkport on Wednesday Jan. 10, 2024.

Another winter storm is expected to cause potentially serious flooding along the Maine coast Saturday.

Jon Palmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said winds will be strong but are not expected to reach hurricane-force.

The storm is expected to bring about an inch of precipitation to Maine, less than the event that flooded coastal towns and wiped out working waterfronts on Wednesday. But Hannah Baranes of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute says tomorrow's high tide is predicted to be significantly higher than it was during Wednesday's storm.

"So tomorrow's tides — just the rising water level from the Earth, Moon and Sun — is going to be about a foot higher than it was on Wednesday, and among some of the highest tides we've seen in the year because of it it being a new moon," she says.

Baranes says that higher tide could amplify the impact of the wind and waves in the forecast. She urges people to be cautious along the coast, and watch for flooding at high tide around noon tomorrow.

Megan Arsenault, deputy director for the York County Emergency Management Agency, said many businesses and homeowners already suffered damage, which is complicating efforts to prepare for Saturday's storm.

"Some areas that are either low-lying, flood-prone or some dune areas are already inundated from Wednesday's storm, so they're particularly vulnerable for this storm," she said.

She estimates that coastal towns in York County suffered millions of dollars of damage Wednesday, though initial assessments are still in the works.

Before tomorrow, state officials are urging Mainers to have a plan for receiving emergency alerts and to familiarize themselves with evacuation routes.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources is also urging fishermen to secure their vessels.

Snow melt is not a major concern with Saturday's storm, Palmer said.

A few inches of snow are expected farther inland in Lewiston-Auburn and to the north. The mountains and foothills may receive up to 10 inches.

The weather service is monitoring another possible storm Tuesday. But temperatures will drop quickly later this weekend. And Palmer said there's the potential for cold air to push a low pressure system far out to sea.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.