Summer rainfall varies around northern Maine

5 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The rains of early August have brought much needed moisture to central Aroostook County farms and gardens as the region’s main potato crop heads into the home stretch. 

This summer’s rainfall has varied greatly around the whole state, while still avoiding the droughts of the past three years, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou. 

Between June 1 and Aug. 19, there have been 6.63 inches of rain in Caribou, according to Corey Bogel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou. That’s 3.1 inches less than the 30-year average of more than 9 inches during that time frame, Bogel said. Meanwhile, Houlton received 8.5 inches of rain and Frenchville 9.3 inches through Aug. 19, both about one inch less than the average. 

A map from the National Weather Service in Caribou shows rainfall amounts compared to the 30-year average between June 1 and August 12.
(Courtesy of National Weather Service)

This summer, there’s been drier conditions in central and northeastern Aroostook County and wetter conditions in other parts of the Crown of Maine, including southern Aroostook, Bogel said. 

Much of the Penobscot Valley and Down East have seen above-average rainfall this summer, with some places are recording five or six inches more than average, according to the National Weather Service. Much of central and southern Maine are in the same boat as central Aroostook County, with rainfall amounts a few inches less than the average. 

Large potato farms and broccoli growers have been using their irrigation equipment over the last month, while the recent early August rainfall also brought much needed moisture to area farm fields and gardens. 

This summer has also featured some locally heavy downpours, even in the drier areas, that knocked down and flattened sections of grain fields in central Aroostook County.

The previous three summers brought drought and abnormally dry conditions to much of Maine, creating problems for growers of crops ranging from strawberries to potatoes to hay. 

Those droughts also created worries for the Presque Isle Utility District, which supplies drinking water to about 6,000 people via groundwater wells that are fed by the Aroostook River. While the utility never saw its fears of low-running wells come to pass, it is now pursuing plans to  add drinking water wells at another location that aren’t subject to the fluctuations of the river. 

In terms of warmth, August’s temperatures have been sticking close to the 30-year average across northern and eastern Maine, according to the National Weather Service.

Through the end of August, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting average precipitation and above-average temperatures for the whole New England region.

Some cntral Aroostook County grain fields, like this one in Presque Isle, show sections of flattening due to heavy downpours.
(Anthony Brino)