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Red River Floodway Being Activated as Southern Manitoba Braces for Winter Storm

October 9, 2019 3:15 PM | News

Red River Floodway

The viewing looking south from the deck of the Red River Floodway bridge on Sunday, April 14, 2019. (CHRISD.CA FILE)

WINNIPEG — An early-season winter storm is tracking into Manitoba this weekend, bringing upwards of 30 centimetres of snow by the time all is said and done.

A special weather statement remains in effect from Environment Canada for much of western and southern Manitoba, including Winnipeg.

“Snowfall accumulations are highly uncertain at the moment, however, it seems as though the highest amounts will be north and west of Winnipeg, where total snowfall accumulations near 30 cm are possible by the end of the day Saturday,” the statement says. “East of Winnipeg the majority of the precipitation should fall as rain.”

Forecasters say the system will move northward from Colorado through the remainder of the workweek, eventually hovering over Lake of the Woods by Saturday.

Along with the snow, Environment Canada says Manitobans can expect strong north winds, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark.

“Travel will be significantly affected, especially west of Winnipeg. Consider altering travel plans,” the agency warned.

Floodway going into operation

The Red River Floodway will be activated tonight at 7 p.m. — something extremely rare for this time of year. The last time the floodway was operated late in a season was in July-August 2002, but it’s never been put into operation in the fall.


River levels rising

The City of Winnipeg is closely monitoring river levels within the city after Manitoba recorded more precipitation in the first nine days of October than it normally receives all month.

The Red River Valley is expecting between 60 to 100 millimetres of more precipitation over the next few days.

The Red River at James Avenue was sitting at 14.06 feet as of 2 p.m. Wednesday. The city says that’s the highest autumn crest it has seen since November 2010, when the James Avenue gauge crested at 13.3 feet. The normal level on the Red River for this time of year is between six and nine feet.

The city says there are currently no properties at risk of river flooding, however, homeowners should take some precautions.

Basement flooding can be a concern year-round, and with rising river levels, the sewer system must rely heavily on pumping stations rather than gravity to carry the water runoff due to higher river levels.

Homeowners are reminded to take the following steps to protect their homes and property:

  • Install a sewer line backup valve and a sump pit with a pump in the basement.
  • Inspect backup valves and sump pump drainage systems to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Ensure drainage is directed away from the home by extending downspouts away from the basement walls and ensuring the earth is built up around the house.