Recent snowfall good timing for Manitoba flood prospects: meteorologist

Greg Gust is the warning co-ordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Forks. Amber McGuckin/Global News

Manitoba might catch a lucky break this spring, according to a North Dakota meteorologist watching the Red River down south.

The U.S. National Weather Service’s Greg Gust told 680 CJOB that last week’s precipitation — which came in the form of a large dumping of snow on much of Manitoba — hasn’t had a big impact on water levels.

The timing of the snowfall, he said, was a best-case scenario.

“That snow and ice and rain came in, and that’s trouble,” said Gust.

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“But if it would have been another week or two earlier, that would have been a mess. That would have caused all that to come in right as the main rivers were opening.

“Now it’s melting, but coming behind the initial surge, so that’s a good thing.”

Gust said another sign that things are looking positive for communities near the Red on both sides of the border is that the past two months have been relatively precipitation-free, after heavy snows earlier in 2020.

“February and March were just so easy on us,” said Gust.

“We came through January and we had the full winter’s worth of snow — we had that incredibly wet fall scenario — and everything looked just horrid for the spring… but then February and March were nothing.”

Although things could change in the next few weeks, Gust said it’s looking like river levels will be more like 2019’s — or lower — than anything particularly concerning.

“We had been targeting a level closer to 2011, 2009, but we may have a hard time hitting last year’s level. That’s the way it looks, but we’ll stay tuned — that’s another couple of weeks down the road.”

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