Minor to moderate spring flooding forecast for Manitoba

The Manitoba government is predicting minor to moderate flood risk for the Red, Souris, Pembina and Assiniboine rivers this spring.

Province released 2013 flood forecast on Wednesday afternoon

The Province of Manitoba is forecasting mild to moderate flooding for the province for 2013. CBC's Alana Cole reports. 1:51

The Manitoba government is predicting minor to moderate flood risk for the Red, Souris, Pembina and Assiniboine rivers this spring.

Provincial officials released their 2013 flood forecast on Wednesday afternoon, predicting minor to moderate flood risk due to significant precipitation in Saskatchewan and the United States.

Officials said precipitation was higher than last year but not as high as 2011 levels, which saw major flooding in Manitoba and the U.S.

Snow levels in the province brought in a fair amount of moisture, but officials said much of this year’s forecast will be dependant on upcoming weather.

Above-average snowpacks in parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota increased the potential for flooding, according to the forecast.

Provincial officials said overall flood risk in 2013 is higher than 2012 but still considerably less than it was in 2011.

Steve Topping, of the provincial Infrastructure and Transportation Department's water management division, said past floods have allowed the province to build up an inventory of emergency response tools.

He said Manitoba now has everything it needs, from sandbags to aquadams to steamers for thawing out culverts.

"We’ve got the experience to carry through with this," added Topping.

Manitoba’s minister responsible for emergency measures, Steve Ashton, said Manitoba is not facing a $1.2 billion flood like it faced in 2011.

"We’re not at the stage we were in in 2011, but it is a higher level of risk than it was in 2012," said Ashton.

"We are working 24/7 to be prepared for whatever may happen, and we all know in Manitoba, a lot will come down to the weather."

March is the most significant month for predicting spring flooding, according to officials.

Officials said they will be watching precipitation closely.

Forecast anxiously anticipated by residents

Many people living along the province’s waterways anxiously waited to hear what officials would predict Wednesday.

Rancher Jackie Jonasson had her pastures in Vogar, Man. flooded in 2011 after water was diverted north through the Portage Diversion.

Jonasson said her fields still haven’t recovered, and she’s hoping her property will be safe from flood waters this year.

"I’ve never been in anticipation of a flood forecast like this before and that’s funny because other years you hear it on the radio, but you don’t really pay attention," said Jonasson. "Now we are really going to be listening."

Forecasts in neighbouring areas

Neighbouring areas have already released their flood forecasts for 2013.

Snowpacks are more than twice the normal level in southwest Manitoba, according to a Saskatchewan report. That could mean increased flows through the Portage Diversion and into Lake Manitoba.

In addition, a report from Grand Forks, N.D., found a high risk of moderate flooding south of Winnipeg. 

"I worry about what the future holds, and I do have concerns. What if it happens again?" said Jonasson.

"I came to the realization that we survived once, and we will survive it again. We will get through it."