Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Flood threat along Red only minor, province says

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The Red River in Winnipeg is expected to crest just high enough this spring to require the city to be ready to fight a flood -- but that's about it.

Based on provincial forecasts, the Red is expected to crest somewhere between 11.9 and 15.4 feet above normal winter ice levels at James Avenue, the city said in a statement.

That range is at the bottom end of what is considered a flood -- and does not require any city properties to be protected by sandbag dikes.

In 2013, the Red River crested in Winnipeg on May 1 at 18.8 feet James. The Red River stood at 2.7 feet James on Friday.

The city has sandbags stacked in warehouses in the event conditions change dramatically. But the province is predicting only minor to moderate flooding on the main stem of the Red this spring and said Friday in a statement there are no flood warnings, watches or high-water advisories at this time.

A storm predicting moderate to heavy snowfall levels is expected across southern Manitoba on Saturday. This precipitation will be factored into future forecasts.

In the first Manitoba flood bulletin of the season, provincial officials said flows are increasing on creeks and major rivers in the southwest, south-central and Parkland regions of Manitoba. Minor overland flooding was observed Friday in the Swan River and Dauphin areas. Water gathered in fields as some culverts and ditches remain snow-packed and frozen.

Routine preparations are now underway for minor operation of the Portage Diversion to clear ice. Water levels along the Assiniboine River are rising. Up-to-date Manitoba flood information can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/flooding/ or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBGov.

South of the border, the Red River has reached minor flood stage at Grand Forks, N.D., and is not expected to rise to a moderate flood stage, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

The Red is expected to crest at Grand Forks on or about April 14 and at the Canada-U.S. border on or about April 19.

The Red remains covered in ice north of the border. Smaller Winnipeg waterways such as Omand's Creek are open and the city is advising residents not to venture onto any waterways during the spring melt.

Despite the minor flood threat, the city is cautioning property owners to protect their basements from both overland flooding, which is typically caused by snowmelt, and sewer backups, which can take place when heavy rains occur while river levels are high.

The city is once again inviting homeowners to apply for a basement-protection subsidy.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2014 A7

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