While it may seem early to be thinking about the spring melt in Manitoba, the unusually warm weather this winter means that there are already a number of activities and cautions that are underway. This week, Manitoba Infrastructure issued a statement asking residents to be cautious on rivers and streams as the variation in temperatures can result in the ice being thinner than might otherwise be expected.
Already north of Winnipeg along the Red River the ice-jam mitigation program has begun with ice-cutting underway using the provincial Amphibex equipment. It has been an unusual past 12 months as it relates to weather and water in Manitoba with the Red River Floodway being pressed into service this past October, the first time that it has ever been used to divert water around Winnipeg during the fall.
And, as is the case every spring in Manitoba, officials are monitoring closely moisture levels and what effect that could have on the possibility of flooding this spring. Flooding, either widespread or localized, is a possibility every year in our province given our topography and the fact that so many rivers and tributaries flow to Manitoba.
Manitoba’s Hydrologic Forecast Centre will be sending out its first official forecast soon, which uses information both from the United States and from Saskatchewan to project flows on both the Red River and the Assiniboine River. While last fall was exceptionally moist, the winter snowfall has been below average. However, long-time Manitobans know that can change quickly in March. Weather conditions between now and the end of April will go a long way in determining the type of spring flooding Manitobans can expect.
Regardless of the spring conditions, Manitobans will benefit from the billions of dollars that have been invested, particularly since the flood of 1997, in flood mitigation infrastructure. These investments in municipal and provincial infrastructure are vital to protecting the lives and property of Manitobans.