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Too early to assess flooding risks: Premier

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One of three Amphibex ice-breaking machines out on the Red River north of Selkirk by Netley Creek this morning works on breaking up the ice as part of the province's 2014 ice jam mitigation program.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

One of three Amphibex ice-breaking machines out on the Red River north of Selkirk by Netley Creek this morning works on breaking up the ice as part of the province's 2014 ice jam mitigation program. Photo Store

Manitoba's spring flood forecast is that it's too early to have a spring flood forecast, Premier Greg Selinger said today.

"It's still very early," Selinger said. "What happens in March and April has a significant impact on what kind of flooding we get, how quick the melt is, how much additional precipitation we get."

Selinger made his comments as the province's fleet of four ice-breaking machines and ice cutters — they score the ice for the ice breakers — started their second week of work on the Red River north of Selkirk.

Only midway into February, the The Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Hydrologic Forecast Centre says it's too early to estimate the amount of spring run-off potential.

However, based on what is known, Manitoba river basin conditions indicate the flood potential appears to be significantly below that of 2011 and 2013.

That's because soil moisture conditions at the time of freeze-up on the Red River were below normal in Manitoba and normal in most parts of the U.S.

The same conditions are seen to the west. The Qu'Appelle River is mainly below normal. The Saskatchewan River shows below normal to normal in southern Manitoba. And the Assiniboine River shows near-normal to above-normal conditions. The Souris River, which empties into the Assiniboine, is near normal to above normal.

The province also says snow conditions were near normal or below normal for much of the province and the U.S. portion of the Red River Basin, although winter precipitation along the Assiniboine River upstream of the Shellmouth Reservoir and the Souris River were above normal for January.

The Qu'Appelle, Souris and lower Assiniboine river winter flows were above normal in January due to lowering of reservoirs in Saskatchewan and North Dakota, which will increase the reservoirs' capacity to deal with spring precipitation and run-off.

Meanwhile, Lake Manitoba is within its normal operation range. Lakes Dauphin, Winnipegosis and St. Martin were above normal levels in January.

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