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Red River water levels start peaking


The Red River is forecast to crest this week in southern Manitoba
The Red River is forecast to crest this week in southern Manitoba

Lyndsay Morrison, staff writer

May 6, 2011 — Crests of the swollen Red and Assiniboine Rivers are flowing through Winnipeg, but officials say flood protection measures are doing their job.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes this spring
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes this spring

It's been a tough flood season for people living along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in southern Manitoba. And now, water levels are beginning to peak.

To put things into perspective, there's enough water flowing through the city of Winnipeg to fill an Olympic-size pool every two seconds, according to Steve Ashton, Manitoba's minister of emergency measures.

He says the flood protection measures are doing their job and there haven't been any major breaches so far. Still, crews have been busy reinforcing dikes.

Officials say the flood is likely the third worst on record after the 1997 “Flood of the Century” and the flood of 2009.

Last weekend, more than 20 centimetres of snow blanketed parts of Saskatchewan. And upwards of 30 millimetres of rain soaked areas in southern Manitoba before switching to snow. Overland flooding was reported along with ice pileups due to the forceful winds.

Ice jams along the Red River also contributed to flooding
Ice jams along the Red River also contributed to flooding

Ashton says there is a very high volume of water in both the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

“What the storm did is it added more moisture into the watersheds and we're seeing this as prolonging what was already an extended flood that will extend well into May and for some areas into the summer as well.”

This year's flooding has already triggered delays to the planting season for farmers. During Monday's Federal Election, special polling stations were set up to allow displaced Manitobans to exercise their civic duty and vote.

Meanwhile, further north, the leader of a Manitoba First Nation is asking the federal government to relocate his community. The Lake St. Martin band has suffered through years of flood dmage, and the community says it's useless to save the Interlake-area reserve.

Manitoba's Water Stewardship says rivers and lakes are expected to stay at high levels until June or even July.

With files from Andrea Stockton and Jill Colton

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