There is a chance of “moderate to major flooding” in some locations in Manitoba, according to the 2016 Fall Conditions Report from Manitoba Infrastructure.
The report, released on Tuesday, indicates high levels of soil moisture at freeze-up in the western and northern areas of the province, while the Red River Valley ranges from average to above-average moisture, Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Blaine Pedersen said in a press release. The report also indicates above-normal base flow and water level conditions.
“It is very early in the flood forecasting timeline and we will monitor numerous other variables over the winter,” Pedersen said in the release. “The conditions outlined in this report indicate there is a chance of moderate to major flooding in some locations in Manitoba. As spring approaches, the province will further assess the flood potential and work with our municipalities to prepare as required.”
Flood forecasters look at six primary factors when assessing long-term prospects for potential floods or droughts in the spring and summer, the report noted. In addition to freeze-up moisture and base river flows, other factors yet to be determined include winter and spring precipitation, melt rate, frost index, and river and lake levels prior to spring run-off.
The report, prepared by the Hydrologic Forecast Centre, also noted that a record amount of rain occurred in October across much of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with precipitation well above normal in all basins except the Red River. Precipitation in November was also above normal to well-above normal throughout the watersheds of the Red, Souris, Lower Assiniboine and Saskatchewan rivers, including the Whiteshell lakes and Interlake regions.
As spring approaches, the province will assess the flood potential and prepare as required, the release said. This preparation will include working with municipal emergency management teams to review existing emergency response plans and sharing information through conference calls and flood preparedness meetings.
The first flood outlook is expected to be available in February, with the final flood outlook released in March.