An unwelcome weekend storm which swept across the province will prolong Manitoba’s most widespread spring flooding on record, officials say.
Rain and snow driven by high winds were general throughout much of Manitoba. The heaviest precipitation occurred in the Duck Mountain region northwest of Dauphin where up to 50 cm of snow fell. Between 20 and 30 mm of rain fell in southern areas.
The storm closed highways throughout much of Manitoba and made driving conditions treacherous. Five people were killed in two separate single-vehicle accidents in western Manitoba.
The extra moisture will not raise flood levels significantly but will extend flooding in most regions, said Chuck Sanderson, Emergency Measures Organization’s executive director.
“Generally speaking, at this point it is quite clear that it will just prolong the duration,” Sanderson said on May 2.
“We’re probably into late May (and) June before we see things start to begin to return to a somewhat normal state.”
The news is particularly unwelcome to Manitoba farmers whose spring seeding is already weeks behind schedule. Normally, seeding is general by the first week in May. This year, very little seeding has been done because of cold and excessively wet soils, according to the Canadian Wheat Board.
“Producers are very much in need of some warmer and drier weather,” said Bruce Burnett, the CWB’s weather and crop surveillance director.
Fields across Western Canada are still saturated from wet weather last year. Agriculture officials warn millions of acres could go unseeded this year.
Last weekend’s storm whipped water into waves which battered dikes protecting homes and communities. But EMO said flood control systems held firm with no reports of damage.
Melting from the heavy snow in northwestern regions is expected to cause some overland flooding from local tributaries.
River levels continue high throughout Manitoba. Flood warnings exist for the Red, Assiniboine and Souris rivers. The Red and Assiniboine were predicted to crest simultaneously in Winnipeg this week. But water levels within the city were expected to remain well below the emergency point.
As of May 1, 650 municipal roads and 59 provincial roads were closed because of flood water.
Over 1,100 residents from four First Nations communities remained evacuated from their homes. Twenty-three residents from the St. Lazare area had also been evacuated as a precautionary measure, including four families outside the community ring dike.
More precipitation forecast for mid-week was not expected to add to the flood risk.
“But any incremental moisture is just not needed at this point in time,” said Sanderson. [email protected]