Spring storm could bring 30 to 80 cm of snow to Manitoba next week, flood forecasters warn

Manitoba flood forecasters are watching for a spring storm that the province says could dump 30 to 80 centimeters of snow on southern Manitoba over the next week.

In a Saturday flood bulletin, the province said the system could bring a mix of snow and rain between Tuesday and Friday.

Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing Wednesday and stay below freezing through April 19 in most places, the province said. Predicted rainfall runoff is not expected to begin until April 20, according to the bulletin.

“This is a Colorado low and is developing favorably to bring southern Manitoba a winter gale of over 30 centimeters of wet snow starting Wednesday and continuing through Friday morning” , said CBC meteorologist John Sauder.

“This is a long-lasting event with a lot of moisture introduced into the system from the south.”

Sauder said if the system moved west, the Red River Valley could receive more rain, freezing rain or ice pellets than snow, while western sections of southern Manitoba, including Brandon, would see greater amounts of snow.

“The models are consistent with every run and they’re in pretty good agreement, so the confidence in the predictions is pretty high, even though the system is still a few days away,” Sauder said.

Sauder said the winds will be extremely strong Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. Wind gusts can sometimes reach 70 to 80 km/h, he said.

“This could be the worst April snowstorm since the 1997 blizzard that contributed to the major flooding later that spring,” Sauder said.

The Rouge River has now peaked between Emerson and St. Adolphe, the province announced Saturday.

The province said Saturday that a flood warning remains in effect for the Rouge River from Saint-Jean-Baptiste to Morris and Saint-Adolphe. The flood warning is also still in effect around Selkirk due to ice jams.

A flood advisory remains in place for the Red River from Emerson to the entrance to the Red River Floodway.

The province began operating the Red River Floodway Friday morning in an effort to reduce flooding on the river through Winnipeg.

Elsewhere, the province said water levels were rising on the Assiniboine River from Shellmouth Dam in western Manitoba to Winnipeg. The Assiniboine is expected to peak between April 11 and April 18, depending on the province.

The Assiniboine River is expected to stay on its banks in all places with gradual snowmelt this weekend, the province said.

The province said the Portage Diversion is operated to limit flows and ice jams on the lower Assiniboine River east of Portage la Prairie.