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River crests delayed by Prairie snowstorm


Rising levels on the Red River. Click the image for Natalie Thomas' flood stories and updates from Manitoba
Rising levels on the Red River. Click the image for Natalie Thomas' flood stories and updates from Manitoba

Jill Colton, staff writer

May 2, 2011 — The snowstorm that barrelled through the Prairies over the weekend has delayed the crest of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in southern Manitoba.

Ice jams on the Red River in Selkirk, MB.
Ice jams on the Red River in Selkirk, MB.

Officials say the date of river crests and the duration of the flood will be affected by the recent snowstorm that blasted across the Prairies.

This past 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.

“And now with this additional precipitation, we anticipate water levels will stay high just about everywhere and this creates unique challenges,” explained Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger at a press conference on Saturday.

The Red and Assiniboine Rivers are a particular concern. The anticipated crest was initially forecast for the last weekend in April. Due to the onslaught of precipitation, it's been pushed to May 4.

Selinger says that the Red River Valley crest has not exceeded that of 1997 -- when flood waters reached record levels.

“It's still slightly below '09 at this point.”

However, the Assiniboine is at its second-highest level in history at Brandon. So far the dikes are holding, but officials remain on high alert.

“It's been a long time since we've seen this much water in this many communities,” Selinger said.

Many residents are keeping a close eye on the situation and making sure dikes are well-maintained.

“There are people out there 24/7 watching the dikes.”

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

With files from the Winnipeg Free Press, Lyndsay Morrison and Sana Ahmed

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