Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Maine flood of 1987

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Similar  Pittsburgh flood of 1936, Chicago flood, Willamette Valley Flood of 1, Floods in Bangladesh, Great Storm of 1987

A pair of spring storms in March and April 1987, combined with snow-melt, resulted in heavy flooding in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.


Conditions leading up to the flood

In the days before the first storm, the weather throughout New England was mostly clear and dry, with temperatures usually in the 50s and lower 60s. Because of this, in southern New England, much of the snow-pack from December and January had disappeared except in higher areas.

However, in Maine, fairly significant snow-packs were still present in many areas and the warming temperatures had made them ready to melt. Five to six inch snow water equivalent was not uncommon, with some measurements of ten inches being recorded at the end of March.

A storm that had affected the midwest with heavy snow and winds over the midwest United States spun off a slow moving low pressure system that moved across New England. The southeasterly winds produced significant orographic lift in the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire significantly increasing the precipitation totals on the east side of these mountain ridges. The highest rainfall accumulations recorded were 8.30 inches at Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire and 7.3 inches at Blanchard, Maine.

The flood

The results of this first storm were mainly focused on Maine. The Kennebec River basin was most severely impacted with record flows on the mainstem and its primary tributaries—the Carrabassett River, Sandy River (Kennebec River), and Sebasticook River. The Piscataquis River experienced flows 50% greater than any measured before.

Many other rivers in Maine—Penobscot, Saco and Androscoggin—all suffered significant flooding; however, flows were generally below records that had occurred earlier in the century. One flood related death was known to occur. In addition to the major flooding in Maine, moderate flooding also occurred within the Merrimack River basin as well the Connecticut River basin.


Flooding became disastrous on April 1, 1987 on Maine’s major rivers. The result:

  • 2,100 homes flooded; 215 destroyed, 240 with major damage
  • 400 small businesses impacted
  • Countless roads and bridges destroyed or damaged
  • Lowe's Bridge, a bridge built in 1857 across the Piscataquis River between Guilford and Sangerville
  • Fort Halifax (Maine) historic site in Winslow, Maine washed away
  • Losses estimated at over $100 million ($171 million in 2007 dollars)
  • References

    Maine flood of 1987 Wikipedia