Forecasters say a spate of storms, lasting as long as Wednesday in some places, will break a recent dry spell that has complicated farming in the Portland area.
“A summery Sunday on tap today,” the National Weather Service station in Gray, Maine, said on Twitter Sunday. “However, we’ll all have to keep an eye to the sky this afternoon as thunderstorms (some severe) are expected to move across NH and ME.”
As an upper level low moves through southern Quebec today, isolated to scattered T-storms are expected this afternoon, some of which could be strong to severe. The greatest chance for severe storms exists across southern NH, with wind, and possibly hail, being the main concerns. pic.twitter.com/UcGJ8oLRbB
— NWS Gray (@NWSGray) June 28, 2020
Some parts of Maine were already bearing the brunt of the storm front by late afternoon Sunday. The weather service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Bridgton, Casco and Naples in western Maine until 4:15 p.m. In New Hampshire, the towns of Wentworth, Ellsworth and Warren had flash flood warnings until after 6 p.m.
In an announcement on its website, the National Weather Service station advised people in those parts of Maine to move to a central room in the interior of a building, and to look out for flash flooding and lightning. The storm may also bring hail and wind gusts of up to 60 mph.
The Portland area is expected to to see showers and thunder starting Sunday night, continuing through Monday and Tuesday. The storms may continue into Wednesday morning.
“A few of the thunderstorms could be strong to severe, with hail, gusty winds, and torrential downpours with localized flooding the main threats,” the National Weather Service said.
For farmers, the forecast will be a relief from a record dry spell from mid-May through June, unmatched since 1871, the weather service said. Last week, most of Maine was classified as “abnormally dry,” the level just below “drought.”
As of June 21, there had been less than a half-inch of rain since mid-May, when the normal level of precipitation was about 4 1/4 inches. That kind of dry spell radiates through farmers’ businesses – if plants can’t grow as normal, there’s less feed for farm animals.
The dry times have benefited one area population, however – browntail moth caterpillars. In recent years, the pests have moved into parts of Waldo, Somerset, and Kennebec counties, defoliating trees and irritating the skin of people who come into contact with them.
The caterpillars are vulnerable to a kind of algae, Entomophaga Aulicae, that attacks their pupa but thrives in wet weather. Arborists hired by the state to prune browntail moth webs have already noticed growth in the pest infestation.