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Province expects little flooding if weather co-operates

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The province’s fleet of Amphibex ice breakers have returned to the Red River north of Selkirk to rebreak ice near Netley Marsh.

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The province’s fleet of Amphibex ice breakers have returned to the Red River north of Selkirk to rebreak ice near Netley Marsh.

Highway 75 should stay open and the rest of southern Manitoba should see little in spring flood flooding, the province said today.

So little in fact the Red River floodway around Winnipeg may not be used and same goes with the Portage Diversion that empties in Lake Manitoba.

Both diversions will only be used on the 10 per cent chance the province sees unfavourable weather conditions, like more snow or rain and rapid snow melt.

Environment Canada's long-term March to May climate outlook calls for a chance that temperatures will be near normal in most of the province, except for the southeast portion which is expected to experience below-normal temperatures. Precipitation is expected to be near normal across the province.

Today’s forecast of more snow will do little anything to change that forecast, Fisaha Unduche, director, hydrologic forecasting and co-ordination, said.

What additional snow falls in southeast Manitoba and northern North Dakota will be monitored to see if the flood forecast should be adjusted, Unduche said.

The flood forecast along the Red River between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota also calls for a normal flood year.

Helping in the Manitoba forecast for a low flood threat is that in most areas of the province soil moisture and winter precipitation are near normal, meaning the ground can absorb most snow melt and runoff.

"Things are looking a lot better than they have in other springs," Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said today.

The exception is in Winnipeg which could experience localized flooding because the snowpack is above normal.

The province says the run-off potential within the city could be above normal if a faster rate of melt occurs, but that the city’s sewer drains should be able to accommodate it. Localized flooding is also a risk in rural areas if culverts and ditches are frozen.

The main hotspot for flooding is The Pas where above-normal soil moisture and above-normal winter precipitation have resulted in the potential for greater-than-normal run-off and the potential for localized flooding.

The province says existing flood protection is expected to be adequate for projected levels.

Near Russell, the Shellmouth Dam and reservoir have been operating to allow for storage capacity for the upcoming spring run-off.

Because of prolonged cold weather, the province’s fleet of Amphibex ice breakers have returned to the Red River north of Selkirk to rebreak ice near Netley Marsh as it’s frozen solid since being broken up about one month ago. The river ice is now broken up each year to reduce the flooding threat caused by ice jams.

The Amphibexes have also broken up river ice on the Brokenhead River through the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, the Icelandic River at the community of Riverton, the Fisher River through the community of Fisher River and Lake Manitoba ice was broken at the outlet of the Portage Diversion channel. Additionally, ice was cut on the Whitemud River at the outlet of the river into Lake Manitoba.

A detailed forecast with text and charts is available at www.gov.mb.ca/flooding/.

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