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Manitoba spring flooding threat set at minor to moderate

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The hard lessons learned during serious spring floods in 2011 and previous years are helping the RMs of Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley prepare for this year.


"We do have our emergency plans in place," said St. Francois Xavier reeve Roger Poitras.


His municipality, along with Cartier and Headingley, established the C.a.S.H. Emergency Measures Office which oversees emergency preparedness and operations for the municipalities.


The Hydrologic Forecast Centre of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation’s preliminary 2013 spring flood outlook was released on Feb. 27. It states there could be a risk of minor to moderate spring flooding for the Red, Souris, Pembina and Assiniboine rivers.


While the snowpack is normal to above-normal across southern Manitoba, forecast centre executive director Steve Topping said the difference between this year and 2011 is soil moisture levels.


"The fall soil conditions were relatively dry," he said. "We will not be seeing a 2011 flood given the conditions at this time."


He cautioned that spring run-off amounts depend on weather conditions and snowfall between now and the end of March. A large snowfall could cause some overbank flooding along the La Salle River.


The potential exists for ice jams on the Assiniboine River east of Portage la Prairie that could damage dikes and cause flooding. Topping said the ice melt will be watched and the Portage Diversion will be used to lower the river level if necessary.


Poitras said local volunteers will also keep an eye on the ice along portions of the Assiniboine River flowing through the municipality.


"We know the areas that are prone to flooding," he added.


Topping said the next provincial flood forecast will be released during the last week of March, at which time officials will have a better idea of flood risk.


"It’s really too early to tell now," he said.

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