Selkirk unleashes amphibex ice breakers in fight against spring flooding

An amphibex ice breaker on the Red River north of Winnipeg. The Canadian Press / File

The city of Selkirk, Man., is launching its amphibex ice-cutting machines Monday afternoon to start breaking through the ice on the Red River north of Winnipeg.

Selkirk mayor Larry Johannson told 680 CJOB the annual event is a vital part of the flood fight in that part of the province.

“For 15 years, it’s been an annual ice-breaking,” said Johannson.

“Breaking this ice up from north of Netley Creek and then coming south well past Selkirk, I always akin it to an ice cube tray… you can take an ice cube tray, one quick twist and you can break it open.”

“Take a solid piece of ice the size of that ice cube tray, and you can go at it for a few days and you won’t be able to break it open.”

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Selkirk mayor Larry Johannson. City of Selkirk

Johannson said the milder temperatures the province has seen over the past few days are a positive development as far as ice-breaking is concerned. The water, he said, is starting to warm up under the ice and wearing away at the bottom of the frozen surface.

“That’s going to be a terrific help,” he said.

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“The longer that big water stays away from the north here, and we can get this ice broken… I’m optimistic and I’m hoping it plays in our favour.”

The province is expected to put out the year’s first official flood forecast sometime this week, but south of the border, there are concerns about major flooding, which could make its way north to Manitoba.

The mayor of Grand Forks, N.D., signed an emergency declaration Feb. 18 in preparation for what they believe will be a historic spring flood.

Grand Forks mayor Michael Brown said forecasters believe their portion of the Red River Basin will be subjected to one of its five worst floods ever.

The U.S. National Weather Service has also predicted major spring flooding all along the Red River right up to the U.S.-Manitoba border.

Click to play video: 'RAW: Ice-breakers working on the ice Wednesday afternoon'
RAW: Ice-breakers working on the ice Wednesday afternoon

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