The province has issued a high water warning for the Red River south of Winnipeg and is preparing to activate the Red River Floodway to manage water levels within the city of Winnipeg.
“As Manitoba prepares for the rising waters of the Red River, we are taking measures to protect properties that could potentially be affected by high water,” said Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler. “We could activate the Red River Floodway for the first time in 2020 as early as the evening of Thursday, April 9.”
Schuler noted standard operating procedure for the floodway gates is to wait until the river ice has broken up and cleared upstream of the floodway inlet. River ice observations indicate the ice is unlikely to clear until April 9 at the earliest and may occur a day or two later, so those levels will be monitored.
Water from the Red River began to spill into the Red River Floodway naturally on April 7. The initial operation is the first of several that will roll the gates off the river bed and push more water into the floodway inlet. The gates will be raised in stages in accordance with Rule 1 of the floodway operating guidelines, which outlines normal spring operation.
The province has issued a high water warning for the Red River from Emerson to the Red River Floodway inlet, just south of the city of Winnipeg, as the river is close to spilling its banks in most of the region. A high water watch has been issued for the Red River from Lockport to Netley Creek due to potential of some overland water in low-lying areas due to ice jamming.
A warning is issued when river or lake levels are exceeding or are expected to exceed flood stage within the next 24 hours, whereas a watch is issued when river or lake levels are approaching and likely to reach flood stage, but unlikely within the next 24 hours.
The forecast peak flow of Red River at the floodway inlet, without further significant precipitation, is estimated to be between 68,000 and 74,000 cubic feet per second. The Red River is forecast to reach levels close to 2006 spring levels between Emerson and Letellier, and between 2006 and 2019 spring levels north of Letellier along the river.
Water levels are expected to peak at Emerson between April 15 and 20 with the peak expected to reach the Red River Floodway between April 19 and 24. With the operation of the floodway, the Red River level in Winnipeg at James Avenue is expected to peak between 19 and 19.5 feet between April 13 and 17.
Provincial crews are deployed in a number of communities in the Red River Valley to prepare for potential ring dike closures. Dike closures are anticipated over the weekend at West Lynn and Noyse. Partial dike closures may also be required along PR 201 on the east side of Letellier and at St. Jean Baptiste.
The minister is reminding property owners to protect wells as high water rolls through the Red River Valley. If local sandbagging is required, the province has shared suggested safety measures with municipalities for crews to maintain COVID-19 safety procedures that can be found at gov.mb.ca.
Water levels along the Assiniboine, Souris and Pembina rivers are relatively low with no significant flooding issues. The Portage Diversion continues to operate to reduce downstream ice-jam impacts. Small ice jams may occur in Winnipeg at some of the Assiniboine River bridges. Major lakes in Manitoba are within normal or desirable operating ranges.