Manitoba flood risk still low, despite U.S. storm

Two weeks of cool and dry weather in late March and early April have eased the flooding risk in southern Manitoba.

However, an April 11 storm in North Dakota and Minnesota has thrown a small wrench into the flood forecast for Manitoba’s Red River Valley.

Fifteen to 25 centimetres of snow fell on eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota yesterday, increasing the amount of melt water that will flow into the Red River this month. The snowfall will boost water levels in Manitoba this spring, but the situation is far from a disaster.

“The forecasted precipitation in the U.S.A. portion of the Red River basin has been factored into Manitoba’s most recent forecast,” Manitoba Infrastructure said in its April 11 flood report.

“This precipitation event increased the forecasted peak slightly, closer to 2011 levels, and delayed the forecasted peak by a day or two. The additional volume of water may also slightly increase the duration of the flood event.”

On April 9, Manitoba’s hydrological forecast centre reduced the flooding threat for the Red River Valley, mostly because the spring melt was progressing slowly. Flood forecasters were expecting Red River flows to peak at Emerson, near the U.S. border, around April 20-23.

If the peak is now delayed by a few days, there will still be several weeks for water to dissipate prior to spring seeding in the Red River Valley.

There is always the possibility of another spring storm, but the overall situation has improved over the last six weeks.

Previously, flood forecasters said a spring similar to 2009 was possible. That year, the Red River recorded the second highest flows in the last 150 years, second only to the flood of 1997.

In 2009, about 1,000 sq. kilometres of agricultural land in Manitoba, south of Winnipeg, were covered in water for part of May and June.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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