BREEZY POINT - The first sign of spring in Manitoba has arrived in the form of three amphibex machines cutting Red River ice near the confluence with Netley Creek.
The floating steel machines with hydraulic arms have started cutting into the Red to reduce the possibility of ice jams affecting communities such as Petersfield and Selkirk after the snow begins to melt.
The prospect for spring flooding on the Red has not been determined this year, as flood forecasters are still crunching the numbers, said Steve Topping, executive director of hydrologic forecasting for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation.
A flood forecast will be issued on Feb. 27, he said.
St. Andrews Reeve Don Forfar said he's optimistic due to the small size of the snowpack along the upper Red River drainage basin in the United States.
The greater fear this year, as it was in 2011, is the Assiniboine River basin may experience flooding, as Saskatchewan is reporting a large snowpack and high soil moisture within the snowpack - two factors that contribute to potential floods.
The amphibexes on the Red River will cut 25 kilometres of ice before moving on to the Icelandic River and Fisher River in the Interlake, the Whitemud River southwest of Lake Manitoba and the Portage Diversion channel.