It's a sure sign of spring and this year it's early. 

Manitoba's flood forecast centre says the spring melt has been boosted by the mild temperatures and the Red River crest is already on the way. 

Already, five properties in Winnipeg are at risk of flooding and are getting sandbags in case the water creeps higher, said the city in a news release Thursday. 

The Red is expected to peak at Emerson between Friday and Sunday and Ste. Agathe between Saturday and Monday.

The peak will arrive in Winnipeg between Sunday and Tuesday, cresting between 16 and 17 feet at James Avenue, potentially higher if there are ice jams, officials said. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the river level at James Avenue was 4.8 m (15.6 feet), and city staff are getting ready to operate flood pumping stations and setting up temporary pumps. 

But the province says the Red is not expected to flood and officials don't anticipate having to order any community dikes to close. 

Floodway may not be used

Flood watchers even predict the floodway won't need to be put into operation, although they do say some water may spill over the floodway entrance.

The rapid melt is has led the City of Selkirk to shut down Selkirk Park due to flooding from snowmelt.

In Winnipeg, officials are reminding homeowners that the annual arrival of spring also means the risk of basement flooding goes up and to take precautions, such as installing a sewer backup valve and sump pump in the basement. 

While the ice has started to move on the Red, heavy ice is still present on most of the Assiniboine River, officials said. 

Sandbags available in Winnipeg

Sandbags for protection against overland flooding are also available at three locations for pickup by property owners.

They can be picked up between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily at the following public works yards:

  • 1220 Pacific Ave.
  • 849 Ravelston Ave. W.
  • 1539 Waverley St.

In emergencies, sandbags are also available outside the regular hours by contacting 311.

Overland flooding still an issue

Two rural municipalities in Manitoba have declared states of emergency due to overland flooding. 

La Broquerie has closed 18 local roads because they are either under water, washed out, or the culverts have been compromised.

The neighbouring RM of Hanover has also declared a state of emergency because of overland flooding. More than six roads there are closed due to flooding.