Winds whip up worry along Lake Manitoba

People living on the shores of Lake Manitoba woke up to another wind warning on Thursday.
Windstorms created violent waves and slammed them into the homes and cottages along Lake Manitoba in 2011. The province issued a wind warning for the south basins of both Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg Thursday. (CBC)

People living on the shores of Lake Manitoba woke up to another wind warning on Thursday.

Cindy Clarkson told CBC News she was watching waves crash on the rocks outside her Delta Beach cottage.

“Well, it's going to certainly give our rocks a test,” she said.

Under the jokes there is concern, however. The area was battered in 2011 when high waves smashed into homes.

The lake is still recovering from the record high levels of that year, which were caused by a deluge of floodwater from further south. The province, worried about the swollen Assiniboine River causing damage to heavily-populated areas, including Winnipeg, used the Portage Diversion to redirect great amounts of the floodwater north to the lake.

As a result, the lake level rose significantly, making it extremely dangerous during windstorms. On several occasions, the wind whipped up violent waves and pushed the water far inland.

Nearly 2,000 people were forced from their homes and cottages and an estimated 700 properties destroyed.

Clarkson said it is still a stressful time whenever the winds pick up. And on Wednesday night, a howling north wind was pushing the water towards cottages there.

"Emotionally it's unbelievable. I mean, we could be in the same situation as 2011," she said.

"We have all worked really hard, we've spent the last two years trying to recover."

The province is applying to the federal government to open a channel at Lake St.Martin to lower the Lake Manitoba levels but Clarkson worries that process — both bureaucratically and operationally, once the channel is open — could take too long to bring those levels down.