If the weather holds, most Manitobans are unlikely to witness any severe flooding this year.
Only minor to moderate flooding is likely along the Red and Assiniboine rivers this spring, according to the province’s first flood forecast of 2013.
Above-average snowpack in many parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota have created the potential for flooding, officials say. But low soil moisture levels throughout Manitoba mean the chances of a major flood, like the one in 2011, are slim at this point.
At the same time, the flood risk is moderately higher than it was last year, Manitoba flood officials told a press briefing this afternoon.
The potential for spring flooding depends in large part on the weather over the next six weeks, officials said. The long-term March to April climate outlook calls for a good chance of normal temperatures for southern Manitoba and precipitation ranging from normal to above normal.
Along the Red River, the potential for spring flooding is low to moderate. Soil moisture is generally below normal while accumulated snowfall is in the normal range. Under average weather conditions, there could be some minor flooding.
Along the Assiniboine River, the flood potential is moderate due to normal to above-normal soil moisture conditions out West and normal to above normal snowpack in most of the basin. Under normal weather conditions this spring, minor flooding could occur in low-lying portions of the upper Assiniboine River in western Manitoba.
Flooding could take place in the Interlake as both soil moisture and winter precipitation are normal to above-normal there. The Fisher River could experience minor to moderate flooding with levels close to those of 1982.
With average weather, there would be "minor use" of the Red River Floodway and the Portage Diversion this spring, officials said.
Lake Manitoba is expected to remain "within its operation ranges" by the end of spring run-off, the province predicted. The lake is expected to peak below the top operating range of 812.5 feet, then fall, depending on weather conditions.
Based on information from Manitoba Hydro, the province predicts that Lake Winnipeg will drop to 713.3 feet by the end of the winter and then rise to 713.7 feet by the end of May.