Late winter in Manitoba is normally the time when government officials worry about spring flooding and hold meetings on how many sandbags to order.
Not this year.
The risk of flooding is low in most of the river basins across southern Manitoba, including the Red River, Assiniboine and Souris Rivers.
“The combination of drier soil conditions in the fall and below-average winter precipitation means there is currently a low risk of major flooding,” said Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler, who unveiled the province’s first flood outlook of 2018 on Feb. 23.
Before winter freeze up, the soil moisture was below normal across most of southern Manitoba and snowfall in the province has been sparse.
Brandon, for instance, received 11 centimetres of snow in January and 6.6 cm as of Feb. 22. As a result, many agricultural fields in southern Manitoba have only a trace amount of snow and bare spots on fields are common. Many producers will need spring rains, in March or April, to recharge soil moisture for the 2018 growing season.
A March snowstorm could alter the flood forecast but for now it’s looking like flooding won’t be a major story in Manitoba in 2018, Schuler said.
“While our government is encouraged at the prospects of a below-normal flood season, we will be prepared for whatever comes Manitoba’s way.”