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Flooding fears grow in Manitoba

Rivers are extremely high.
Rivers are extremely high.

Jill Colton, staff writer

February 25, 2011 — Officials say the prospect of major spring flooding throughout Manitoba has worsened.

Image from the 1997 Red River Valley flood
Image from the 1997 Red River Valley flood

Based on the flood forecast, Manitoba residents are fearful for a repeat of 1997 -- when waters reached 5 km inland submerging virtually everything.

Warm weather in southern Manitoba has helped to melt some of the snow packs but water left behind has formed ice.

Moisture on the ground has left rivers higher than at this time in 1997, when the Red River Valley had its most severe flood since 1826. Total damages were estimated to be in the $3.5 billion range.

Officials say it is still too early to tell what will happen and much depends on the weather between now and the spring breakup.

Substantial snowfall that results in at least 60 cm between now and the thaw could result in flooding equal to or worse than in 97.

People in southern Saskatchewan are also bracing for potential spring flooding. Last year, the province saw its wettest spring and summer on record, and the result was devastating especially for farmers.

According to a report by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, the outlook for spring 2011 calls for high runoff, especially in the agricultural area of the province.

“Even with average weather conditions between now and runoff, there will be some flooding,” the report says. “Unfavorable weather conditions between now and spring runoff, such as above normal precipitation or a rapid melt, will significantly increase the level of flooding.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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