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U.S. agency sees high spring flood risk for Red River

As most of Western Canada continues to brace for frigid temperatures, some in southern Manitoba are already preparing for a messy spring.

The U.S. National Weather Service on Thursday reported the Red River is in danger of significant flooding due to rapid snowmelt in March.

Its report stated the risk for significant snowmelt flooding is substantial, running above long-term historical averages across the Red River and Devils Lake basins.

Factors contributing to the service’s prediction include ice thickness, soil moisture content at freeze-up, frost depth, winter snowpack, and total precipitation from Oct. 1, 2018 up to last Wednesday (Feb. 20).

The service will issue another update on March 7.

A separate flood outlook report from Manitoba’s provincial Hydrologic Forecast Centre is expected in coming days, though no firm date has yet been set.

The Red flows northward along the North Dakota-Minnesota state line into southeastern Manitoba and up to the south end of Lake Winnipeg.

Along with the well-known property damage seen in flood years such as 1950 and 1997, springtime overland flooding on the Red in high-water years has been known to lead to significant unseeded acres, road closures and inaccessible farmyards on both sides of the border.

Winnipeg news outlets last week reported Amphibex machines were scheduled to begin breaking ice on the Red north of Winnipeg on Monday (Feb. 25) to help prevent ice jam-related flooding.

Southern Manitoba communities will continue to watch closely as Manitoba Infrastructure said it is working to have Highway 75 — the main provincial highway connecting Winnipeg to Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D. — completely flood-proofed by 2020.

— Marlo Glass writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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