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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > Situation Update: Kennebec River Ice Conditions

Situation Update: Kennebec River Ice Conditions


February 19, 2010

5:00 PM


AUGUSTA, MAINE -- Maine Emergency Management Agency, Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency, local officials and partners including the USGS and National Weather Service continue to monitor ice conditions in the Kennebec River.

The Kennebec River ice jam remains in place, stretching about a mile upstream from Gardiner. Recent measurements by the USGS showed the jam over 6.5 feet thick in some areas, and solidly grounded on the banks of the river. The ice is still solid in the jam. However, upstream in Hallowell and Augusta where new ice had formed behind the jam, open water is increasingly visible.

In other areas of the state, river ice is also being monitored, specifically in Piscataquis, Oxford and Franklin Counties.

Current Situation and Actions:

  • MEMA and Kennebec County EMA continue to consult with the National Weather Service, looking 7 to 10 days out for potential weather concerns. While the ice jam elevates flooding risk, warm weather and rain will likely be necessary to cause additional flooding.
  • Kennebec River communities have put action plans in place to deal with flooding should it occur. Augusta, Hallowell and Gardiner officials have met with residents and business owners, and urged them to be prepared to take emergency actions quickly if flooding develops. These communities are prepared to provide rapid public alerting of imminent flooding.
  • Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency is working with CRREL (*US Army Corps of Engineers, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory) to place ice monitors at selected locations on the river. The monitors will provide automated notification to public safety officials when the ice begins to move.
  • MEMA and the US Coast Guard are planning the spring breakout of the lower Kennebec. Clearing the channel in the lower Kennebec is still considered to be the most effective mitigation action. It increases the likelihood that ice from the upper reaches of the river can flow freely downstream without jamming further and endangering river communities. Ice-breaking is currently scheduled to begin March 8.
  • At the present time, the size of the jam and the renewed presence of downstream ice preclude any direct intervention to break up the jam. However, MEMA is researching any possible break-up methods in case conditions change and active intervention becomes a viable option.

Preparedness and Awareness

  • Ice jams are inherently unpredictable. All those potentially affected by ice jam flooding should pay close attention to National Weather Service forecasts, and to information and alerts issued by local officials.
  • Standard homeowners and business insurance does not cover floods. All those in areas subject to flooding should contact their insurance agents and assess their coverage. Flood insurance carries a 30-waiting period before a new policy goes into effect.
  • Emergency planning for businesses and families is the best preparedness for a flood or any other disaster. First steps to put a plan together can be found at

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Last update: 07/20/10