Wet weather heightens flood worries in Manitoba

It's going to be an ugly, wet few days in southern Manitoba, and the rain is raising flooding worries in many places.

Winnipeggers advised of increased risk of basement flooding

The Red River surrounds park benches in Churchill Park, near Eccles Street, on Tuesday. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

Get ready for wet weather.

It's going to be an ugly, wet stretch of days in southern Manitoba and the rain is raising flooding worries in many places — including Winnipeg, where the city is warning about water getting into basements.

Southern Manitoba is in for a few rainy days, starting in the afternoon in the western part of the province and reaching Winnipeg by evening.

The rain continues through Thursday then it's wet snow mixed with rain showers on Friday morning.

If we get two or three inches [of rain], I think we're in big trouble. The river is right full right now.-  Dave Single, reeve RM of Westbourne

CBC meteorologist John Sauder expects about 10 to 15 millimetres in Winnipeg by Wednesday night, then another 10 millimetres through Thursday.

Western regions will get more like 20 to 30 millimetres by Wednesday night, he said, adding that "north of the lake basins it'll be wet snow mixed with rain as we head through Thursday afternoon and evening." 

In addition to all that mess, the temperatures drop in southern Manitoba to daytime highs of only around 5 C and 4 C on Thursday and Friday.

Things rebound by the weekend and into the next week, with brighter skies and highs of 8 C to 12 C, Sauder said.

The extra water is worrisome for Dave Single, the reeve in the Rural Municipality of Westbourne, where crews have been using dynamite to blast away ice and lower levels on the Whitemud River.

"If we get less than an inch I don't think we're going to be too bad," he said. "If we get two or three inches, I think we're in big trouble. The river is right full right now."

Wet basements

The City of Winnipeg is advising homeowners about an increased risk of basement flooding due to high river levels.

When those levels are high, the normal capacity of the sewer system is reduced. With heavy rains, there is an increased risk of overloaded sewers backing up through house sewer lines and flowing into basements that aren’t protected.

Although basement flooding is a risk any time of the year, the risk increases with high river levels because the sewer system must then rely heavily on pumping stations rather than gravity to carry the rainfall runoff, the city said.

“Homeowners should check their sump pumps and backwater valves regularly to make sure they are functioning properly,” said Susan Lambert, field service operations engineer with the city’s Water and Waste Department.

“All residents should ensure drainage is directed away from the home by extending downspouts away from the basement walls and ensuring the earth is built up around the house.”

High water warnings

The coming rain has also prompted a flood watch for the upper Assiniboine River, from the Shellmouth Dam to Brandon.

Provincial officials said banks are filling along many parts of the river and low-lying land near those areas may flood.

A high water advisory has also been issued for the lower Red River and Netley Creek in the Petersfield area because of the potential for ice jams.

And a high water advisory is in place for streams in the Interlake region and streams in eastern Manitoba.