Maine River Flow Advisory Commission's 2023 Annual Meeting Discusses Ice Conditions, Flood Risk, And Drought Conditions 

AUGUSTA, MAINE -The State's River Flow Advisory Commission met virtually on Thursday, March 2 to discuss winter weather, snowpack, river ice, and hydrologic conditions in preparation for Spring.

The National Weather Service reports winter conditions this season have been mild to moderate compared to normal with below normal snowpack, coupled with well above normal temperatures across the state. Most of the state has experienced below normal snowfall except northern Maine where it is running slightly above normal, although snow is catching up quickly this week due to multiple storms.

"Overall, we have less river ice than we normally would this time of year," said Nicholas Stasulis, Data Section Chief at the U.S. Geological Survey, and co-chair of the River Flow Advisory Commission. "This is due to above normal streamflow in the fall and early winter and above average temperatures in January." 

The US Coast Guard noted it has been a light ice season. There are four Maine-based icebreakers fully operational and ready to respond to ice jams. The Coast Guard will continue making regular icebreaking trips through the rest of the season, which ends March 31, 2023, to stay ahead of ice formation and to keep the rivers moving.

Since the early February snowpack survey, the snowpack has increased over much of the state with the largest increases in Aroostook County and small losses in areas along the coast. For this time of year, the water content is normal over much of the state, but slightly above normal in Aroostook County and slightly below normal in areas of northwestern and coastal Maine.

According to Sue Baker, State Coordinator of the Floodplain Management Program, Maine is underinsured when it comes to flood insurance. It is anticipated that FEMA will set the Letter of Final Determination in December 2023 for the updated flood maps in York and Cumberland counties, which will make them effective in June 2024. 

Maine's River Flow Advisory Commission consists of members from the US Geological Survey, Department of Environmental Protection, the National Weather Service in Gray and Caribou, the US Coast Guard, University of Maine, Maine Emergency Management Agency, Maine Geological Survey, and the Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry/Floodplain Management Program. The Commission was originally formed after the spring floods of 1983 to improve the exchange of hydrologic information collected by the members, to review the data, and to provide information to emergency action agencies and the public. It was created in statute by the Legislature in 1997.

The River Flow Advisory Commission is not expected to meet again unless conditions warrant.The report will be available online at or can be obtained from MEMA by calling 207-624-4400. 


Vanessa Corson