Severe spring flooding not expected in Manitoba

Spring flooding shouldn’t be a problem for farmers and property owners in Manitoba this year because soil moisture levels are much lower than previous years, the province announced today.

In their first forecast of 2013, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship flood experts said the snow pack is above average in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota. However, a U.S. aerial remote sensing survey from November indicated that soil moisture was below normal in southern Manitoba and in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota.

Consequently, with favourable weather from now until the spring melt, no flooding is expected on the Red River this year, the forecast noted.

If the weather is average, there would be minor flooding this spring.

The risk of flooding is higher on the Assiniboine River because soil moisture levels and the snow pack on the western reaches of the river are above average.

For instance, the snow pack near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border is rated at 200 to 240 percent of normal, the forecasters said.

In preparation, the provincial government has released water from the Shellmouth Dam, the primary reservoir on the Assiniboine River. The release has increased the reservoir’s capacity by three metres, which should mitigate the Assiniboine River flows downstream of the dam.

With average weather conditions, minor flooding is expected in the valleys of the upper Assiniboine River, the forecasters said.

Pasture and hay land around Lake Manitoba, which was inundated by spillover lake water during the 2011 flood, should be safe this spring. Forecasters expect the lake to peak at 812.5 feet above sea level. In 2011, lake levels exceeded 817 feet above sea level, flooding out farmers and cottagers around Manitoba’s third largest lake.