Manitoba 2019 flood outlook could mirror 2011 (not awful) or 2009 (much worse)

With spring just around the corner, the Manitoba Government has released its first report for the 2019 flood outlook. According to Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler, the risk of major spring flooding in the Red River Valley in 2019 is high.

“Early forecasting data shows that we expect to see major flooding along the Red River, with both the Red River Floodway and the Portage Diversion pressed into service,” Schuler says. “Manitoba Infrastructure continues to gather data and work with counterparts in the United States and Saskatchewan to ensure timely information is available.”

The government expects two scenarios to possibly happen. The first being normal weather conditions, which would see the levels of the Red River south of the floodway to hit the levels it did back in 2011. The second scenario would be for unfavourable conditions, which would bring the Red River levels comparable to those of 2009. According to the news release, water levels will be below the flood protection levels of community and individual dikes.  However, partial closure of some community dikes may be required to maintain local access.

That being said, the government does cite some flooding could happen on farmland and low-lying areas near the Assiniboine and Souris rivers as flows are expected to be high for 2019. The Shellmouth Dam will be operated to store a portion of the spring run-off, thereby reducing downstream river flows.

“March remains a crucial month in terms of snowmelt and weather conditions, and how that will affect the flood forecast going forward,” Schuler added.  “We expect to update Manitobans with more information as updated forecast data becomes available.”

Currently there’s a low risk for overland flooding in the Interlake, upper Assiniboine and Whiteshell lakes areas. The Saskatchewan River and Carrot River in northern Manitoba are at moderate risk of overland flooding.

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