Winnipeg, eastern Manitoba could see overland flooding on Friday, province says

An overland flood watch has been issued for Winnipeg and eastern Manitoba on Friday as the spring thaw has begun and 20 millimetres of precipitation is expected.

The watch will be in effect for areas east of Manitoba Highway 75 from 12:01 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, the Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure’s Hydrologic Forecast Centre said in a news release.

Overland flooding threatens the areas because the ground is partly frozen and full of moisture, according to the release.

The flood prediction falls in line with the spring outlook issued last March, which showed a significant flood risk for the Red River between Emerson and the Red River Floodway inlet.

The spring thaw and warm temperatures have led to surface run-off for most basins in southern and central Manitoba.

River flows and levels are expected to increase in the coming days as the thaw continues and ice on lakes, rivers and creeks weakens, the province said.

Manitobans should keep off the ice as warmer temperatures can result in unpredictable conditions, the province said.

Community dikes and other flood protection measures in the Red River basin offer a level of protection for communities in the area on Friday, the province said. However, there could be a risk of flooding in any of the basins in the next few weeks depending on the weather.

Meanwhile, the Portage reservoir will be filled with water to help with diversion operations, according to the release.

Water will enter the diversion basin on Friday during gate operation tests, and the diversion will commence operations when the reservoir flow surpasses 5,000 cubic feet per second.

This will be done to reduce the effects of ice jamming on the Assiniboine River east of Portage la Prairie and to control river levels in Winnipeg and other areas downstream of Portage la Prairie.

Use of the Red River Floodway is also expected to decrease water levels in Winnipeg this spring.

The Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization continues to support local authorities and emergency partners preparing for potential spring flooding, according to the release. They are also working with Indigenous Services Canada to support First Nation communities.

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