Manitoba watches closely as North Dakota braces for big Red River flood

Click to play video: 'Manitoba watches closely as North Dakota braces for big Red River flood'
Manitoba watches closely as North Dakota braces for big Red River flood
Manitoba's latest flood forecast says last week's snowstorm didn't make much of an impact on the risk of flooding in the province – Apr 11, 2023

A snowstorm in Winnipeg had little impact on the province’s flood risk, according to the latest outlook.

In the update released Tuesday afternoon, the province says river flows and levels are expected to increase in the next three to five days and ice on Manitoba’s waterways will weaken.

But the flood forecast remains consistent with the last outlook issued on March 22, which projects a major flood risk for the Red River, and low to moderate risk for the Assiniboine, Fisher, and Icelandic Rivers.

While Manitobans continue to monitor potential flooding, our neighbours to the south are bracing for what could be a top-10 all-time flood event.

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg residents begin flood preparations by visiting sandbag depots'
Winnipeg residents begin flood preparations by visiting sandbag depots

In Fargo, N.D. — 335 kilometres south of Winnipeg — forecasters are predicting the Red will crest at 38 feet, and calling for around 20,000 sandbags to be filled.

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Nearby Cass County has doubled its usual sandbag ask — all the way to 200,000.

Cass County commissioner Chad Peterson told 680 CJOB’s The Start that there’s a lot of uncertainty, but he’s opting to be prepared just in case.

“It’s a bit of discomfort and a bit of unsureness because we’re not really sure where we’re going to wind up in the end,” Peterson said.

“But we’re preparing for that … we are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

“We had so much snowpack, not only locally, but to our east and to our west.”

Click to play video: 'Spring flooding in North Dakota'
Spring flooding in North Dakota

North Dakota experienced a near-record snowfall, this winter — the effects of which, Peterson said, will hopefully be minimized thanks to favourable ground conditions.

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“(We have) freezing levels within the soil of less than two feet in some cases. In some areas it’s six inches, which is remarkable,” he said.

“The lack of moisture content in the soil is allowing a lot of this snow just to percolate down, so it’s not even getting to the streams and rivers.”

Peterson said Fargo has spent hundreds of millions on flood safety improvements since the Flood of the Century in 1997, which will culminate in a diversion in place around 2026-27, which will make flood risks “meaningless” for those in the urban area.

“I can’t even process it. I’ve been here my whole life — 50 years — and I can’t even imagine not caring about a flood.”

On the Canadian side of the border, while no homes in Winnipeg are currently considered at risk of flooding, the arrival of spring weather and melting snow means conditions could change quickly.

Winnipeggers in need of a few sandbags to shore up their property can now pick those up for free from the city.

Residents experiencing — or expecting — overland flooding can head down to 960 Thomas Ave., in Elmwood and bring ID proving they live in Winnipeg if they want some sandbags.

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Click to play video: 'Storm and melt impacts on flood'
Storm and melt impacts on flood

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