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National Weather Service issues extensive coastal flood warning ahead of storm

Detritus at a flooded Belfast Public Landing in Dec. 2023.
Murray Carpenter
Maine Public
Flooding at the Belfast public landing during a previous storm.

The National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood warning for the coast of Maine in advance of a major storm due to arrive Tuesday night.

Meteorologist Michael Cempa, with the National Weather Service in Gray, said the worst flooding could occur at high tide Wednesday morning.

Cempa also said waterfront areas can expect damaging surf during the storm.

"We'll see some pretty big waves," he said, leading to "splash over and [the] possibility of debris on roads."

Cempa said the storm could drop 2-3 inches of rain along the coast, with heavy snow expected in the north and mountains.

Vanessa Corson of the Maine Emergency Management Agency says while the public should take rain and wind seriously, she does not anticipate the level of impact brought by the Dec. 18 storm.

"The National Weather Service is telling us that they don't expect homes are going to be flooded or that roads or culverts are going to be washed out," Corson said. "That said, flooding is still a concern."

The National Weather Service is reminding motorists to not drive around barricades on closed roads or through water of unknown depth.

State offices in Maine will delay opening on Wednesday until noon.

Gov. Janet Mills says snow, wind, and rain will likely bring hazardous driving conditions. She's encouraging Mainers to drive cautiously and to give plow trucks, utility workers, and first responders plenty of space.

A national climate assessment released Tuesday said the U.S. experienced 28 climate and weather disasters in 2023 that each left more than a billion dollars in damages.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assessment shows that 2023 was the fifth warmest year on record for the contiguous United States.

Maine had its second warmest year on record, and its fifth wettest.

Nationally, the $28 billion disasters were the most in a calendar year. They included flooding events, tropical cyclones, tornado outbreaks, and a winter storm, a wildfire, and a drought.

As human-caused climate change warms the planet, more extreme weather events are expected.

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