What are Manitoba’s soil moisture levels after a year of record precipitation?

Following a year of record precipitation, a new report from the Manitoba government shows that soil moisture levels were near normal or below normal in most Manitoba basins at the time of freeze-up.

In a Monday news release, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk announced the results of the ‘2022 Manitoba Basin Fall Conditions Report.’ He said that hydrologic conditions combined with the weather this upcoming winter and spring will be the main factors that impact the extent of potential flooding.

“At this time conditions in most areas appear somewhat favourable,” he said.

“The long-term spring flood risk will be dependent on future weather conditions including the amount of precipitation received over winter and into spring, as well as the rate of snowmelt.”

The province noted that most basins received a record amount of precipitation this past winter and spring, which brought about significant flooding. However, the hydrologic conditions improved in the summer and fall with normal to below-normal precipitation. Then, in October and November, eastern and western basins received below-normal precipitation, while central and northern basins got above-normal precipitation.

Manitoba explained that because of summer and fall precipitation levels, soil moisture at the time of freeze-up was near normal to below normal for most of the province’s basins. Some parts of central Manitoba and the Interlake region had above-normal soil moisture levels.

The extent of spring run-off is also based on the water levels on the rivers and lakes before freeze-up. The province notes that Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg are within operating ranges, while Lake Winnipegosis and Lake St. Martin are near normal to slightly above normal. Dauphin Lake is well above normal, and the inflow into Lake of the Prairies is tracking near normal.

Spring run-off is also impacted by winter and spring precipitation. According to the Manitoba government, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s long-term precipitation forecast for the upcoming winter and spring predicts above-normal precipitation for northern Manitoba and near-normal for southern Manitoba.

Piwniuk said the province will release further basin condition updates and spring flood outlooks as necessary. The ‘2022 Manitoba Basins Fall Conditions Report’ can be found online. 

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