Heavy U.S. snowfall raising concerns about Manitoba flooding

Heavy snowfalls south of the border over the weekend have only added to the worry about a nasty flood season for parts of southern Manitoba.

Morris Mayor Scott Crick told 680 CJOB that based on predictions, water levels in his town could rise to 2011 levels with a normal melt season – which harms local businesses if the highway gets shut off.

Crick said in 2011, Highway 75 was closed for about a month due to flooding.

“I think it’s very important when we look at local business in a town such as ours,” said Crick.

“It’s not just the through traffic, but it’s also now the local traffic that can’t make it to town, whether it’s to go to the grocery store or pick up some hardware or some building supplies or even just go out to dinner.

“We’re still being somewhat optimistic, hoping that potentially if the melt is right and we have below normal precipitation, that the disruption may be shorter, but it certainly does impact local business when the highway does close.”

Morris isn’t the only Manitoba community concerned about the potential for a flood.

Selkirk Mayor Larry Johansson told 680 CJOB that his community is bracing for the impact of a spring melt, and doing what it can to mitigate possible flood damage.

“It’s very worrisome,” said Johansson. “Of course we’re keeping an eye around here, St. Clements, St. Andrews and the City of Selkirk.

“I watched down south all weekend. Grand Forks getting six inches (of snow), and Duluth, Minnesota… all that region, all that water. It’s gotta come down the Red River and it’s gotta come right past our place.”

Johansson said crews are out on the river cutting up ice to help protect the communities in the region – including the nearby First Nations – but it’s not happening as easily as they would like, with a few problem areas.

Another concern, he said, is that the ground froze so early this winter.

“The ground froze solid. So even if it starts warming up, there’s so much snow cover and more snow and rain coming, there’s going to be completely 100% runoff.

“Very little of this snow and ground water is gonna go into the earth. That’s all gonna go into the water system and that’s what’s really really scary.”

Johansson said with flood preparations under way, he plans to continue monitoring the situation in the U.S., particularly in the Grand Forks area.

“They had nothing two to three weeks ago, and then one weekend it was three feet of snow, and they’re still getting more snow. All of that has to melt and it has to come somewhere. It’s going to be how quick it melts.

“It’s worrisome, it’s interesting, and it’s a ride we all have to take.”

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