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Province updating flood forecast Tuesday

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Manitobans will learn Tuesday morning the possible extent of this year’s spring flood.

U.S. flood forecasters have already called for a major flood on the Red River at the Canada-U.S. border, comparable to 2011. That spring flooding on the Red River resulted in ring-dike closures at 15 Manitoba communities, the closure of Highway 75 south of Morris and the second-highest flood crest in Winnipeg since the Flood of the Century in 1997.

Backing up that forecast are heavy rains last fall that saturated the top level of the soil and froze solid early in the winter. A thick snowpack on top of that and the delayed thaw have combined to increase the flood threat.

Moisture conditions in parts of southern Saskatchewan, those which drain in into the Assiniboine and Souris Rivers, are similar. That province said earlier this month that in the areas where there is well-above-normal snowpack, overbank flooding can be expected. Unfavorable weather conditions between now and the start of the spring runoff, such as well above normal precipitation and/or a rapid melt, will increase the risk of flooding, Saskatchewan forecasters have said.

In advance of possible flooding along the Assiniboine River, the province has reinforced areas of the Portage Diversion, which siphons excess water from the river into Lake Manitoba.

Ice cutters have already broken up ice on the Red River north of Selkirk towards Lake Winnipeg to reduce ice jams.

The province also opened up the Shellmouth Reservoir near Russell in February to draw it down in advance of spring flooding.

In North Dakota, Gov. Jack Dalrymple is meeting today with Fargo and Cass County officials about what could be the fourth major spring flood in five years for Fargo-Moorhead residents.

Officials in the two cities have said in reports  they are confident they can handle a 38-foot crest, but Cass County and Fargo are asking for volunteers to fill a total of one million sandbags.

We will live stream the provincial news conference beginning at 11 a.m.

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