Parts of Manitoba are at risk of major flooding this spring, the province announced in its first forecast of 2017.
Soils in Manitoba were saturated going into the winter and multiple snowstorms hit the province in December. Conditions are right for major flooding if events such as late spring blizzards or heavy rain during snowmelt occur.
The province outlined key risk areas should unfavourable weather occur:
• The Red, Souris, Pembina and Lower Assiniboine rivers are at risk for major flooding.
• The Upper Assiniboine, in western Manitoba, is at risk for moderate to major flooding.
• Flooding risk in the Interlake region is moderate.
Infrastructure Minister Blaine Pedersen, in a conference call with media this morning, said it’s still early and hard to compare this year to floods of 2011 or 2014. Flooding scenarios are dependent on weather in March and April, and it’s nearly impossible to predict rain or snow two months in advance.
However, the soil moisture levels are above normal to well-above normal in western Manitoba, southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which could increase the amount of spring runoff.
As well, winter snowfall has been higher than usual in the basins for the Souris, Red and Pembina rivers.
In 2011 and 2014 there was major flooding along the Assiniboine River in western Manitoba, mostly because of spring rain. The province said the threat is less severe this year.
It described spring runoff in the Upper Assiniboine as near normal to above normal, based on current conditions.