Severe flooding occurred in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties in northern Maine between April 28 and May 1, 2008, and was most extreme in the town of Fort Kent. Peak streamflows in northern Aroostook County were the result of a persistent heavy snowpack that caused high streamflows when it quickly melted during the third week of April 2008. Snowmelt was followed by from two to four inches of rainfall over a 2-day period in northern Maine. Peak water-surface elevations resulting from the flood were obtained from 13 continuous-record streamgages and 63 surveyed high-water marks in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties. Peak streamflows were obtained from 20 sites on 15 streams through stage/discharge rating curves or hydraulic flow models. Peak water-surface elevations and streamflows were the highest ever recorded at seven continuous-record streamgages, which had between 25 and 84 years of record in northern Aroostook County. The annual exceedance probability (the percent chance of exceeding the streamflow recorded during the April/May 2008 flood during any given year) at six streamgages in northern Maine was equal to or less than 1 percent.
Data from flood-insurance studies published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency were available for five of the locations analyzed for the April/May 2008 flood and were compared to streamflows and observed peak water-surface elevations from the 2008 flood. Water-surface elevations that would be expected given the observed flow as applied to the effective flood insurance studies ranged from between 1 and 4 feet from the water-surface elevations observed during the 2008 flood. Differences were likely the result of up to 30 years of additional data for the calculation of recurrence intervals and the fact that hydraulic models used for the models had not previously been calibrated to a flood of this magnitude.