Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Warmer weather, rain expected to help break up river ice
Warmer temperatures and rain are expected over the weekend, leading to an expected breakup of the solid ice covering the Manitoban portion of the Red River.
Environment Canada is predicting highs of 11 C on Saturday and Sunday as well as five to 15 millmetres of rain in the Red River Valley. The warmer air, precipitaton and rising river levels are expected to break up the river ice, provincial flood forecasters said in an update today.
The province expects the Red to crest at the Canada-U.S. border on Friday or Saturday; the U.S. National Weather Service places that crest on Saturday or Sunday.
The crest should arrive at Winnipeg four or five days after the crest at the border. Flows upstream of Winnipeg are expected to peak at about 40,000 cubic feet per second. Peak flows during the 2009 Red River flood, by contrast, were 97,900 cfs upstream of Winnipeg.
The presence of solid ice, however, has led the province to station amphibex icebreakers in Winnipeg.
Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said one of the province’s three Amphibex ice-breaking machines will be deployed in south Winnipeg over the next day or two in anticipation of next week’s Red River crest in the city.
"The concern here is to deal with potential ice-jam activity, particularly around bridges," Ashton said today.
Having an Amphibex in the south part of town will allow the province to respond more quickly to ice jams in the area.
The other two Amphibexes will be kept in Selkirk.
The province is also keeping a watch for potential ice jams on the Red River north of the city. "Traditionally ice is a problem north of the floodway," the minister said.
The Red is expected to crest between 18.2 and 18.7 feet above normal winter ice levels at the James Avenue monitoring station. That’s just below the 2013 crest of 18.8 James, a level kept down by the operation of the Red River Floodway.
The floodway can only operated if the river is clear of ice. Some water will spill into the floodway channel, regardless.
Three low-lying Winnipeg properties will have sandbag dikes in place to protect them from the possibility of flooding.
West of Winnipeg, a high-water advisory remains on the Assiniboine River between Griswold, which is west of Brandon, and Portage la Prairie. The Portage Diversion is carrying about 3,000 cfs of the Assiniboine’s flow to Lake Manitoba. The diversion can carry 25,000 cfs but was expanded to carry 34,000 cfs during the exceptional 2011 Assiniboine River flood.
Updated on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 4:43 PM CDT: Adds comment from province.
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