WINNIPEG — Major late-winter snowfall in the United States has increased the flood risk on the Red River in Manitoba.
The Hydrologic Forecast Centre on Wednesday released an updated spring flood outlook, which now predicts major flooding on the Red River and low to moderate risk of flooding in most Manitoba basins.
While the forecast is based on normal weather conditions, favourable conditions with a slow snow melt could decrease the flood risk.
During a favourable scenario, Red River levels would be similar to peak water levels observed in the fall 2019 flood, while normal weather conditions would be near the spring peak levels observed in spring 2019. Should additional precipitation fall and temperatures rise quickly, levels on the main stem of the Red River would be similar to 2020 from Emerson to Red River Floodway Inlet.
Ice-cutting and breaking work along the Red and Icelandic rivers to reduce ice jam-related flooding has been completed north of Winnipeg.
Under current projections, the province expects to operate the Red River Floodway this spring to protect the City of Winnipeg from overland flooding. The floodway has been operated in 35 out of the 54 years since it has been constructed.
Turning attention to the Assiniboine River, provincial flood forecasters predict a low to moderate risk of significant spring flooding along the river and most of its tributaries.
Based on the runoff potential in the Assiniboine and Souris basins, the Portage Diversion is expected to be operated under unfavourable weather conditions. Under favourable and normal weather conditions, the Portage Diversion may be operated to reduce ice jam-related levels downstream of the diversion.
A low risk of flooding is forecast for most other Manitoba basins including the Saskatchewan River, Whiteshell lakes area and northern Manitoba. With the exceptions of Dauphin Lake and Lake St. Martin, most Manitoba lakes, including Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba, are projected to remain within operating ranges after the spring run-off.
“As in many other years, the risk of flooding could change in any of the basins depending on weather conditions between now and the spring melt,” the province said in a release.