Concerns of another Colorado low loom over southern Manitoba

Much of southern Manitoba is dealing with overland flooding and high water warnings. The province says the Red River continues to rise, a situation only made worse by last weekend’s storm.

Pumps are running around the clock in St. John Baptiste. Justin Heinrichs, who was working in town, had to stop to take in just how high the water is, noting he hasn’t seen it this high in a while.

“Not in a long time. We own property in Emerson actually and it’s usually right up to the cabin,” he said.

The flooding has closed more than a dozen rural roads in the RM of Montcalm, which spans from the U.S. border to Morris. While the reeve calls the situation “nuisance flooding” right now, more rain is likely on the way.

Natalie Hasell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said most models show the bulk of the precipitation associated with the system falling to the south of Manitoba, in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Environment Canada is forecasting another Colorado low to hit Manitoba early Friday morning.

It could prove to be a problem, as one flood expert says 85 per cent of the Red River’s water comes from southern basins.

“There’s no dam at the border, so we take what we receive,” said Jay Doering, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Manitoba. “It passes through Pembina and then arrives in Emerson and depending on the magnitude of those flows, we can determine whether or not the Red River is going to be beyond its bank capacity.”

With the impending storm potentially bringing several millimetres of rain, Doering said the rivers will likely overflow.

“Whether you take the lower-case scenario for this situation, which would be like a 2019 flood… either way the Red River will leave its banks and so will the Assiniboine River in Brandon.”

It is a worrying thought for people like Heinrichs.

“I got a lot of family out there that is concerned and everyone has been backed up,” he said. “Yeah, I would say I’m concerned.”

The province said it is keeping a close eye on flooding, saying it is watching to see if Highway 75 near the border needs to be closed. 

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