As early as the 1800's, Manitoba's existence around the Red River has been overshadowed by rising waters and sandbags. When water levels reached record-breaking highs in 1897, 1997 and 2009, the Red River story underwent major crescendos. What's definitely clear about this situation is that it affects many people's livelihoods.
This year, Manitoba is not seeing anything new. “The Red River floods every year,” says Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “The river is still rising and the situation is unpredictable.”
Several people wonder why Manitoba's Red River is more conducive to floods than other regions with similar bodies of water.
It just so happens that the Red River runs from the Dakotas north into Manitoba.
“And because of the direction the river runs in, the water congregates in one area,” says Dayna Vettese, another meteorologist at The Weather Network.
Conditions also become particularly prime for spring flooding in Manitoba depending on what kind of a winter the region has had.
Ice jams play a major role in eventual flooding as well. As ice on the river breaks up, it gets stuck together, thereby creating an ice jam. Basically, pockets in the river become overburdened with ice and with the arrival of spring's warmer temperatures, these particular areas are heavily affected.
Temperature fluctuations from the winter to spring months help deteriorate conditions that contribute to massive levels of rising waters. Added moisture like snow and rain affect the outcome of the situation as well.
“Some springs are worse than others,” says Vettese.“And, another crucial factor is how rapidly ice and snow melt in and around the Red River.”
Because the province experiences this every year, officials have built proper infrastructure such as, floodways and floodgates that create arteries in the river in order to deviate water in another direction.
“Flooding has been happening since 1897,” says Dillon. “The Red River has been flooding for years and now it's in the top four of the highest flood stage, and it's still rising.”
Like every year, Manitobans are well-equipped and ready to defend their province against the rising waters of the Red River.