Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/3/2019 (861 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler speaks about the flood outlook at the Hydrologic Forecast Centre in Winnipeg on Wednesday.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler speaks about the flood outlook at the Hydrologic Forecast Centre in Winnipeg on Wednesday.

Flooding in Manitoba’s Red River Valley is expected to approach or exceed 2009 levels this spring, depending on the weather, with a moderate risk of flooding along the Assiniboine River.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler provided a flood update Wednesday at the Hydrologic Forecast Centre. He said the spring weather so far — mostly warm daytime temperatures with overnight freezes — has meant a slow melt, which means little flooding danger for most communities.

"We’ve said what we really needed to do was pray for warm days and freezing at night, and tah dah! We got it. And so far, so good," Schuler said.

"Now, that doesn’t mean that things might not change in a week, but we do have some time before we will see the peak coming... and a lot can change in between then and now."

The province is predicting the peak at Emerson to crest between April 12 and 23, depending on the weather and rate of snowmelt. Water levels at James Avenue in Winnipeg could reach 201/2 feet with unfavourable weather, officials said.

High water levels on the Red River in downtown Winnipeg in May 2009.  Flood forecasters are calling for spring flooding on the Red River Valley on par with 2009 levels.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

High water levels on the Red River in downtown Winnipeg in May 2009. Flood forecasters are calling for spring flooding on the Red River Valley on par with 2009 levels.

The communities most at risk of flooding are along the Red River Valley, in rural municipalities such as Morris, Ritchot and Emerson-Franklin, where the province is forecasting a flood similar to or above 2009 levels if normal to unfavourable weather occurs.

Schuler said the province is preparing for the possibility of having to close Highway 75 if water levels rise too high, as it did in 2009.

Ritchot Mayor Chris Ewen said his municipality has ordered an extra 100,000 sandbags this year, amassing a total of 400,000. Its council is providing daily flood updates on its website and bracing for the worst.

"We are ready every year for something, whether it’s minor, major or somewhere in the middle. We always make sure that we have our emergency co-ordinator ready to go," Ewen said, noting officials are already set up in the St. Adolphe Fire Hall, fielding ratepayers’ questions since last week.

Morris Mayor Scott Crick said the town is feeling fairly confident it won’t be flooded out or evacuated, thanks to its ring dike protection.

"We can get ideas in March, but April is when the action really happens," Crick said of the anticipation. "We want to trust the work of the flood forecasters, but at the same time, we’re still being very optimistic that we may avoid a (highway) closure."

Crick noted Highway 75’s closure can severely impact local businesses, who won’t have access to through traffic.

Morris residents would feel more at ease about the flood forecast if the province went through with plans to elevate or detour Highway 75 away from the Red River, the mayor said.

Schuler mentioned Wednesday the project is still in the works. It will mark one of the final major floodproofing investments on the province’s proverbial bucket list.

Thanks to $800 million in permanent floodproofing investments since Manitoba’s 1997 "flood of the century," Schuler said the province is far better prepared to accommodate any and all flooding.

The province will provide daily flood updates and more information about how to prepare online at gov.mb.ca/flooding

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu