Risk of significant spring flooding remains low

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The risk of significant spring flooding remains low for most locations across the province at this time, Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler announced today.

“As Manitobans know, weather conditions in our province can change on a moment’s notice.  Our government will remain ready to act if heavy winter precipitation, a fast snowmelt or heavy spring rainfall occurs,” said Schuler.  “For now though, we have reason to be cautiously optimistic about what’s ahead for most parts of Manitoba this spring.”

Manitoba Infrastructure’s Hydrologic Forecast Centre is continuing to monitor the impacts of weather conditions across the province.  The centre works in collaboration with weather services and flood forecasters in neighbouring states and provinces to monitor the winter precipitation patterns throughout Manitoba watersheds, said Schuler.

The 2017 fall conditions report issued early in December indicated soil moisture levels before freeze-up were normal to drier than normal in most of Manitoba.  At this time, winter precipitation in most areas of the province remains average to below average, with some areas indicating well below average precipitation records.

Along some streams, possible ice jams could affect the flood risk.  Current river ice assessments indicate above-normal thickness for this time of the year.  This is a result of below-normal temperatures this winter and the lack of sufficient snow cover to insulate the river ice from the cold air temperatures.  Above-normal thickness increases the risk of ice-jam flooding in areas that are historically susceptible to ice jams.  The province will conduct detailed ice thickness measurements in the coming months, and ice-cutting and icebreaking programs in the areas most prone to ice jamming.

“The first detailed flood outlook will be released in the latter part of February,” said Schuler.  “Floods are caused by a combination of unique circumstances and there is a risk of over-estimating or under-estimating the flood potential too far in advance.”

Early spring outlook information can help prepare for potential spring flooding, allowing time to acquire temporary flood mitigation equipment based on projected flood conditions.  The province also maintains an inventory of temporary flood-fighting equipment, which includes over two million regular sandbags, six sandbag-making machines, 18,000 super sandbags, 43 kilometres of cage barriers into which sand or other heavy material is placed, 50 km of water-filled barriers, and 59 mobile pumps and heavy-duty steamers to open clogged drains.