Overland flooding threat lingers in wet weekend weather

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Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a rainfall warning for Winnipeg, with 30 to 50 millimetres expected by Sunday and the heaviest to fall Saturday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/04/2022 (225 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a rainfall warning for Winnipeg, with 30 to 50 millimetres expected by Sunday and the heaviest to fall Saturday.

New warnings may also come as the rain turns to snow beginning Saturday evening near the Saskatchewan border. Depending on its severity, power outages may loom due to rain freezing on hydro lines.

The heavy rain pelting southern Manitoba had already made its mark on thousands of residents.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A pedestrian crosses the street in the rain on Portage Ave. on Friday. Forecasters say 30 to 50 millimetres of precipitation is expected over the weekend with the heaviest amounts to fall Saturday.

A power outage that affected around 13,000 people Friday morning was caused by a pole fire near Sanford, a spokesman for Manitoba Hydro told the Free Press.

“It is what we tend to call ‘pole fire season’… It doesn’t know if it’s winter, it doesn’t know if it’s spring,” Bruce Owen said.

It comes when a winter’s worth of salt and grime caused by road traffic builds up on insulators that attach the power lines to wood poles. If there’s a lot of moisture, like on Friday, it can cause a short circuit that can set a pole fire.

By mid-day, less than 200 customers were still affected by the outage, Owen said.

“Be aware and patient, and if (people) have time, always prepare… In the event that there is an extended outage this weekend, (they’re) prepared and have the right things that they need so they and their families are safe,” he said.

A Colorado low moving through Manitoba brought the rain, resulting in the province issuing an overland flooding warning for much of its southern area.

It is the second low pressure system of its kind in the past 10 days, but instead of snow, it will be rain and cold temperatures that mark this one, warning preparedness meteorologist Natalie Hasell said.

“A lot of hazards are expected associated to this system, and impacts potentially lasting a while after the system is gone, as it will take a while to clean all this stuff up.”

Manitobans should take the rain seriously, Hasell said, encouraging people to stay home and, if they do leave, to tell loved ones where they’re headed.

Manitoba Infrastructure’s hydrologic forecast centre has warned some areas of southern Manitoba could receive more than 50 mm of a mix of rain and snow, with others receiving as much as 80 mm by mid-Monday.

With this, the province announced Thursday a risk of moderate-to-major flooding for the Red River Basin. Depending on how much rain comes on the weekend and how quickly remaining snow melts, a second crest is expected from late April to early May.

Overland flooding, too, becomes an issue, as the ground is still too cold to absorb all the extra precipitation.

“(As well,) it will get mixed up with the snow that is still on the ground in some places, and then when temperatures cool, it’ll freeze and make that very difficult to clear,” Hasell said.

This rings true for lawn care service business Sodfather owner Troy Schmid. He said after months of having more snow-clearing jobs than they could take on, his Winnipeg staff is now forced to the sidelines as spring cleaning projects get postponed even further by the rain.

“Right now, we have guys that are sitting around waiting to work,” he said Friday. “We lose a month, basically. We’ve lost all of April, in which usually we can do spring cleanup… We’re usually cutting grass at the beginning of May, second week of May. So this puts us back weeks, if not a month.”

Sodfather has a wait list of around 100 people waiting for spring cleaning services, and a backlog who were hoping for grass cutting or landscaping services around this time, Schmid said.

It’s been a “frustrating” year to work in lawn care, he said, and the extra rain is only causing more problems for homeowners.

“The yards that were already kind of weak will become weaker, they won’t grow as fast,” he said. “Depending on the type of yard, you could end up with a little bit of mould, mushroom, yield, if we do get the right type of temperature.

“Just overall, it’s not the greatest.”

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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