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Major flood risks seen in southern Manitoba

Premier Stephen Harper and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger examine flooded areas around Brandon in July 2014. (PMO photo by Jill Thompson)

Areas of Manitoba are at moderate to major risk of flooding, according to the province’s first full flood outlook for the spring.

Levels of future snowfall and/or rainfall, the timing and speed of snowmelt, and the runoff timing in Manitoba, the U.S., Saskatchewan and Ontario are still “key factors,” the provincial government said Monday in a release.

Forecast models so far suggest the Red, Souris, Pembina, Roseau and Lower Assiniboine rivers and the Whiteshell Lakes areas are at “major risk of flooding,” the province said, noting conditions in the Souris River basin will affect the lower Assiniboine River in western Manitoba.

Overland flooding risk, meanwhile, is “moderate” for the Interlake region, along the upper Assiniboine River and the province’s north including the Saskatchewan River.

Manitoba’s major lakes “remain a concern,” the province added, and current river flows and other lake levels are “normal to above normal for this time of year.”

The early melt seen in the middle of February in the southern portion of the Red River basin has “diminished” most of the snowpack south of Grand Forks in North Dakota, the province noted.

“This has slightly reduced the potential for flood flows on the Red River in Manitoba, but it has also left the soil saturated and prone to high runoff volumes from future precipitation.”

Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency on Feb. 9 released a preliminary outlook which suggests “below-normal” runoff potential in most of the province — except in its southeast, which includes the Assiniboine, Souris and Qu’Appelle river basins.

The Manitoba government said Monday its plans and preparations will be based on unfavourable weather conditions and “the scenario of highest flood risk,” and it will work with municipal emergency management teams to review existing emergency response plans and share information.

“At this time, we encourage communities to continue with preparatory measures such as ensuring emergency protocols are in place,” Infrastructure Minister Blaine Pedersen said in Monday’s release.

Information on preparing rural Manitoba properties and beef and hog farms for flood conditions is available online. Flood information seminars are also to be held at later dates in Morris, Brandon and Selkirk, Pedersen said.

The province’s second and final flood outlook is due out in late March. –– AGCanada.com Network

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