Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Flood forecasters keep watch

Manitobans hit by snowstorm that also nailed North Dakota

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An early spring winter blast had both Manitoba flood forecasters and RCMP scrambling on Monday.

Snow, blowing snow and wind combined to leave in its wake treacherous driving conditions, some school closures and plenty of shocked faces following days of seeing the snow on the ground slowly melting.

A provincial spokesman said Manitoba's flood-forecasting centre was closely monitoring the spring storm's impact.

"Regional flood response teams are working with municipal officials on the ground in Morris, Emerson and other Red River Valley communities," the spokesman said.

"The precipitation forecast for the Manitoba portion of the Red River Valley is within the predictions for a normal weather scenario in the provincial flood outlook, and impacts from snowfall south of the border are being calculated with officials from North Dakota."

Environment Canada meteorologist John Paul Cragg said from Saskatoon that the snowfall was the northern edge of the storm that walloped Fargo with more than 22 centimetres of snow and smashed records in Bismarck with 44 centimetres.

"We didn't get the real brunt of it," Cragg said, noting by Monday morning six centimetres of snow had fallen on Winnipeg, with another five to 10 centimetres expected by the evening.

As well, Cragg said another storm, predicted for Wednesday, is expected to stay almost completely in North Dakota, except for possibly affecting the extreme southeast corner of Manitoba.

"The average snowfall in April for Winnipeg is 10 centimetres," he said.

"But April can be quite a drastic month.

"The average may be 10, but that means you can have 20 centimetres one year and the next year zero."

Cragg said in the run-up to the Flood of the Century in 1997, Winnipeg was hit by 22 centimetres of snow on April 5, 1997.

Monday's storm caused school closures, including the Border Land School Division in southern Manitoba.

During the height of the storm on Sunday through Monday, the entire length of the I-94 in North Dakota from the Minnesota border to Montana was closed, as well as all of the I-29 from south of Fargo to the Canadian border.

There was so much snow that The Forum, Fargo's daily newspaper, made its online paper available for free because so many customers hadn't received their paper due to delivery problems.

The National Weather Service was reported as saying it would be issuing a new spring flood-threat assessment either today or Wednesday because of the storm.

While the National Weather Service said it was still compiling information, a preliminary assessment said the 50 per cent chance of exceeding a 38-foot (11.6 metres) crest in Fargo in the last flood outlook has likely increased. The 2009 flood crested at a record 40.84 feet (12.4 metres).

American weather forecasters are predicting another storm will strike the Fargo area on Wednesday.

RCMP were reporting numerous motorists losing control of their vehicles and ending up in ditches on the Perimeter Highway and other highways in southern Manitoba.

The worst collision saw a 20-year-old woman from the RM of La Broquerie die after her 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo struck a southbound Freightliner semi-trailer on Highway 12 about four kilometres south of Steinbach at about 10 a.m.

RCMP said the car was reported to have lost control in the slippery, heavy snow and slush, then swerved into oncoming traffic.

RCMP said the woman's name will not be released. The 47-year-old Winnipeg driver of the semi-trailer was not injured.

RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish said motorists need to drive for the conditions.

"Unfortunately, we're back to winter-driving conditions," Karpish said.

"We need to be very careful out there... Unfortunately, some people have taken their winter tires off already."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 16, 2013 B1


Updated on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 7:00 AM CDT: replaces photo

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