City of Winnipeg has already started to prepare for major spring flooding

After a turbulent few months of winter storms and high-water levels, the city of Winnipeg has started preparing for the possibility of severe spring flooding.

As reported by the Winnipeg Sun, there’s no official forecast that predicts the nearby Red River will rise high enough to cause a major event, but the city said it’s not taking any chances this year, and has already started taking precautionary steps. It has issued a request for engineering proposals that will help prepare for water levels up to 22.5 feet above normal winter ice level on James Avenue. The street borders the city’s Red River.

“Spring flooding is an unpredictable event and, in most cases, subject to change as weather conditions vary,” the request for proposals notes.

Water levels reaching 22.5 feet is nearly the height of the city’s 2009 spring flood– the second-largest flood Winnipeg has experienced since 1968.

However, a city spokesperson told the Sun that 22.5 feet is just a benchmark for flood-planning and shouldn’t be used a legitimate prediction for water levels.

Provincial data was released in December and stated that precipitation that was close to record high levels that has caused soil to be well above normal moisture levels and increased risk of spring flooding.

Beyond soil moisture, other flood forecast factors include the height of snowpack on the ground, moisture content of snow, depth of frost in spring and weather during the spring.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said this week that he was concerned about high water levels and would be taking action on flood protection and reaching out to the federal government for assistance.

The province usually publishes a detailed flood forecast in late February.