People living north of Winnipeg are breathing a sigh of relief after ice jams that threatened to flood some communities have broken up and moved on.
As a result, the Red River is flowing as it should — albeit much wider and quicker. Swollen from spring runoff and fed with floodwaters from the United States, the river has already submerged some land, including the walkway at The Forks in Winnipeg.
A stretch of cold weather last week caused parts of the river to refreeze, resulting in extensive frazil ice developing near Selkirk.
The blockage created a potential for the river to back up, spill over the banks and cause flash flooding.
'[It] did the good bump and pushed 'er right through.' —Selkirk Mayor David Bell
About 40 residents in the Rural Municipality of St. Clements, about 13 kilometres east of Selkirk, were put on alert on Friday.
But warmer weather on the weekend softened the ice, which then became dislodged when another large chunk of ice slammed into it.
"[It] did the good bump and pushed 'er right through," said Selkirk Mayor David Bell. "And it looks as though the ice has moved through and we have water flowing."
As well, Manitoba flood officials on Sunday raised the gates of the Red River Floodway, which also eased some of the pressure from the rising river.
The man-made 48-kilometre channel between St. Norbert and Lockport, diverts water around the east side of Winnipeg.
The overall flood threat in the province has also been reduced, with officials predicting a crest almost a meter lower than previously forecast.
Ring dikes, highway could still be closed
However, there are still areas in the province that will likely be under water.
Highway 75, the major artery between Winnipeg and the U.S. border, is routinely flooded and officials suspect it could be shut down this week near Morris.
"We are watching it very closely. Water levels are still climbing at Morris," said Manitoba Water Stewardship spokesman Steve Topping. "There is the potential that 75 could be closed, but it's very close."
The ring dike around the town of Emerson, near the U.S. border, has already been partially closed and officials may take similar action at Morris and St. Jean Baptiste.
Partial closures mean none of the communities will be completely cut off from road access.
The Red's crest is expected in the Emerson area on March 30 or 31 and in Winnipeg around April 7.