By Marianne Curtis
The RM of Ritchot is already cringing after the province recently released the first spring flood forecast of the year.
Manitoba Water Stewardship’s first spring flood outlook for 2010 calls for significant flooding on the Red River in southern Manitoba, with average weather from now through spring, but anticipated levels would be 0.3 to 0.9 metres (one to three feet) lower than last year. The run-off on the Red River in Manitoba is expected to be above average from Emerson to Morris but average from Morris through Winnipeg and into Lake Winnipeg. Run-off on the U.S. portion is expected to be well above average.
The potential for spring flooding in Manitoba will largely depend on weather conditions. With unfavourable weather, conditions along the Red River could be about 0.3 m (one ft.) higher than in 2009, but still 0.3 to 0.6 m (one to two ft.) lower than in 1997. The timing and speed of the eventual breakup and the amounts of precipitation in the next eight to 10 weeks will have considerable effect on the flood potential.
The current conditions in the Red River watershed in Manitoba are that soil moisture levels are above average but not as high as last year. Snow coverage is above average in some areas, and the ice thickness varies from strong in the Ste. Agathe area to weak in Selkirk. Winter river flows are above average at this point.
Red River peak stage forecasts, based on normal ice conditions vary according to weather conditions. With a favorable spring, minor to moderate flooding can be anticipated, while average weather could see water levels one to three feet lower then in 2009. The probability of a 2009 flood or greater, ranges from 40 per cent at Emerson to about 25 per cent at St. Adolphe depending on further snow or spring rainfall.
In eastern Manitoba, the current flood forecast for the Whiteshell and along the Whitemouth River in the RM of Reynolds is unlikely unless the weather changes drastically.
The Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) has contacted communities to ensure they are prepared and many of these communities have exercised their emergency plans.