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Flooding prompts road closures in Saskatchewan and Manitoba


Staff writers
April 29, 2013 — Warmer temperatures and rising water levels prompted officials to close some roads and highways in parts of the Prairies over the weekend.


The increased water levels were already noticeable Sunday in Winnipeg.
The increased water levels were already noticeable Sunday in Winnipeg.

While not expected to be as severe as in 2011, the spring melt is definitely causing rivers to rise across the Prairie provinces.

The balmy temperatures over the weekend have brought increased flood risk across the region.

The Manitoba government downgraded its projected flood risk last week, but that doesn't mean the waters aren't rising.

The Red River in Winnipeg has been rising steadily, with the water level at James Avenue rising at around 6.7 feet by 8 am Saturday.

By Sunday, the Red River walkway at the Forks was slowly vanishing beneath the rising water, and forecasters say the waterway will continue to rise in some areas by around three feet a day until around early May.

"Unless significant precipitation develops in the next few days, many tributaries are expected to crest within the next few days," a bulletin from the province reads.

Still, the water has also been rising on the Whitemouth and Whitemud rivers, and the province has issued high water advisories for many smaller rivers, creeks and dams in the southeast and south-central parts of Manitoba.

Officials say some provincial low-lying roads are being affected, and rising water levels may force them to close. 

Drivers are urged to call 511 before heading out to get an update on road conditions in the area.

Flooding over Highway 1 east of Indian Head, Saskatchewan (Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways)
Flooding over Highway 1 east of Indian Head, Saskatchewan (Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways)

In neighbouring Saskatchewan, that province's Water Security Agency said a cooler system was forecast to move into the province early in the week, which will slow the spring runoff.

Still, some flooding is occurring, and RCMP are warning drivers in the North Battleford and Cut Knife areas to be on the lookout.

A few roads were closed across the province over the weekend due to high water levels and portions of soft ground. 

Flooding closed sections of local highways near Moose Jaw, but crews say they have been able to divert the water. 

On Saturday, Alberta Emergency Measures issued overland flood alerts for the Big Lakes and Smoky River areas. It already issued flood warnings on Friday for parts of central Alberta west of Edmonton, including Whitecourt and Barrhead.

Meanwhile, south of the border in the United States, the Red River's rise has been much more drastic. 

At Fargo, North Dakota, which is one of several communities that have been sandbagging and building dikes for the past few weeks, the waters were a little under 38 feet Sunday afternoon, far above the 28-foot flood stage set by the National Weather Service.


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