Manitoba's chances of spring flooding 'below or near normal'
The Pas and Souris, though, may face some level of flooding
Manitoba's new flood forecaster, Fisaha Unduche, released his first official flood forecast for 2014 Friday, predicting below or near normal potential for flooding for most areas, without "additional significant precipitation."
Unduche said part of the reason for his early optimism is the quality of the deep snow that still blankets most of the province.
"The density of the snow is light, so it doesn't contain too much water," he said.
Unduche said, however, there are two exceptions: The Pas and northwestern Manitoba, and the Souris area in southwestern Manitoba. He said both regions are seeing above average soil moisture and above average snow pack.
Souris may be facing the kind of major flooding the region saw in 1999.
But there is far more protection in place this time, according to Steve Topping, the head of the province's Hydrologic Forecasting.
"At the time, it was a significant flood because it could exceed the community diking," he said. "But now with the community diking in place, it will be adequate."
Manitoba's minister responsible for flood issues, Steve Ashton, said it may be too early for most Manitobans to think about flooding. But not for his department.
"Minus 37 and we're getting ready for spring," he said "It will come!"
Flood officials expect to operate both main diversions this spring, the Red River Floodway and the Portage Diversion near Portage la Prairie.
The province said even with high levels of moisture in the soil, it is not expecting any evacuations, even in Souris or The Pas.
Ice jams are another matter.
But Ashton said, even there, the province is better prepared than it has been in the past.
"Even with any ice jamming we're much better prepared than we were in 2009," he said.
Flood forecasters said they don't expect to have to close Highway 75 due to flooding this spring.