It may not feel like it this week as a major snowstorm heads for Manitoba, but spring is setting in across the province.
That has officials warning the public to keep off the ice on rivers, lakes and other waterways, as mild temperatures have thinned it considerably.
In a statement issued Sunday, Manitoba's water stewardship department warned people that sledding, snowmobiling and skiing on frozen bodies of water is no longer recommended, as many patches of open water have been reported throughout the province.
River ice in Winnipeg is also extremely unstable, officials said.
The public is asked to keep a close eye on children and pets when walking near water at this time of year.
Meanwhile, the province is moving ahead with preparations for what is expected to be a severe flood season.
The government has purchased two new sandbagging machines each capable of producing 35,000 sandbags in eight hours. The province plans to deploy 2 million sandbags to protect the public from spring floods, which some experts say could come near 1997 levels.
Work has also begun to raise and fortify 70 kilometres of dikes along the flood-prone Assiniboine River from Portage la Prairie to Elie.
“Flood protection has a major impact on our province’s economy, environment and quality of life in Manitoba,” Premier Greg Selinger said in a statement earlier this month. “Over the years, we have learned a great deal on how to deal with floods and we are confident our emergency plan and procedures will assist communities throughout the province in preparing for and responding to a potential flood.”
With files from the Canadian Press and the Brandon Sun