Weekend deluge could produce worst conditions since Flood of the Century, provincial officials warn

Manitoba’s Red River Valley is bracing for what could be its worst spring flood since 1997, with dozens of rural homes likely to be evacuated and roads to become submerged.

Provincial officials aren’t panicking because, they say, communities and individual properties in the flood zone are protected against the projected peak thanks to improvements made since the devastating Flood of the Century 25 years ago.

At a news conference Friday, Fisaha Unduche, executive director of hydrologic forecasting and water management for Manitoba, said this weekend’s Colorado low weather system could propel peak flows past those of the 2009 flood, which was the largest since 1997.

He said peak levels are expected in Emerson around May 7-9, and they could stay within the valley until May 14.

Four weather systems packed with rain and/or snow have hit the province this month, and this weekend’s Colorado low could bring an additional 30 to 80 millimetres of precipitation to southern Manitoba, said Unduche.

Water levels are rising on many rivers or tributaries, and many municipalities have been dealing with overland flooding caused by last weekend’s Colorado low, which dumped more than 70 millimetres of precipitation in some places.

Provincial crews were prepared to close Highway 75 on the north side of Morris as early as Friday to seal that section of the town’s ring dike to protect it from the rising Red.

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