Manitobans have been told to prepare for flooding this spring with the risk of moderate to major flooding persisting in many areas of the province.
“At this time, we encourage communities to continue with preparatory measures such as ensuring emergency protocols are in place,” Infrastructure Minister Blaine Pedersen said during the release of the first 2017 provincial flood outlook February 27.
Forecast models at this time show areas around the Red, Souris, Pembina, Roseau and Lower Assiniboine rivers and the Whiteshell Lakes areas all remain at major risk of flooding.
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The risk for overland flooding in the Interlake, along the Assiniboine River and in northern areas around the Saskatchewan River is moderate at this time, the report said.
However, major lakes remain a concern with current river flows and other lake levels normal to above normal for this time of year.
The Hydrologic Forecast Centre is closely watching precipitation, spring melt and inflows from the northern U.S. in the Red River Basin and Souris River Basin in the west.
The report said the early melt of mid-February which occurred in the southern portion of the Red River Basin has diminished most of the snowpack south of Grand Forks, N.D. This has slightly reduced the potential for flood flows on the Red River in Manitoba, but it has also left the soil saturated and prone to high run-off volumes from future precipitation.
The report said frost depth is near normal to below normal throughout most of Manitoba. Below-normal conditions can potentially decrease the amount of overland flooding that may occur.
Soil moisture is generally normal to well above normal on all Manitoba basins, including southern Manitoba/Red River Valley: (normal to above normal), western Manitoba (above normal to well above normal), in Saskatchewan (above normal to well above normal).
Northern Manitoba, including The Pas region (above normal to well above normal) the Interlake (normal to above normal) and eastern Manitoba (near normal).
Future precipitation, the timing and how fast snow melts and the timing of run-off in Manitoba, the U.S., Saskatchewan and Ontario remain key factors. Conditions in the Souris River Basin will affect the lower Assiniboine River in western Manitoba.
The potential for spring run-off is above normal to well above normal in the Red River, the Souris River, the lower Assiniboine River, the Pembina River and the Roseau River basins. The potential for spring run-off is near normal in the upper Assiniboine River, the Saskatchewan River, the Qu’Appelle River and the Interlake region.
The run-off potential is normal to above normal throughout the rest of the province, including the Winnipeg River basins, the Lake Winnipegosis region and the Whiteshell area.
Environment Canada’s latest long-term forecast shows equal chance of below-normal, near-normal and above-normal precipitation for the next three months, with a slightly higher chance of above-normal temperatures throughout northern Manitoba and near-normal temperatures for the rest of the province.
The province continues to assess data and is working on the second and final flood outlook scheduled for release in late March.
More information is available at www.gov.mb.ca/flooding.