Red River crest expected May 5-9 in Manitoba, forecasters say

The Red River is expected to crest in southern Manitoba late next week, but first, it moves through Grand Forks, N.D., on Wednesday, at a level forecast to be around 48 feet.

While U.S. forecasters have called for a top-10 all-time water level, it’s still significantly lower than the 54-foot crest during the 1997 flood.

The Red is expected to crest between Emerson and Winnipeg from May 5 to May 9.

U.S. National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust told 680 CJOB’s The Start that the forecast for the river could change depending on melting and even more precipitation.

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“I know we’re going to be warming up today and through the rest of this week, so things will start moving again,” he said Tuesday.

“Then there’s the chance of rain — again, fairly significant rainfall this coming weekend — so all of those are factors in those later crests from Grand Forks all the way up.”

Gust said colder weather in the region over the past few days has contributed to slowing things down on the river a little, but our coldest days are likely behind us.

“Hopefully, we’re going to be steadily rising and staying above freezing most of the days from now on, but we’re still below the temperature curve for warming up,” he said.

“Through the first few weeks of May, it’ll be somewhat cooler than normal and somewhat wetter than normal.”

“March kind of gave us a little bit of a break on the intensity and frequency of storms, but it appears we’re right back in it and it looks like we’re going to be in a relatively active weather pattern for weeks to come.”

Read more: ‘It’s heartbreaking’: homeowner says, as Manitoba basements, roads hit by flooding

The province announced Sunday that the Red River Valley is under a flood warning from Emerson to the inlet for the floodway just south of Winnipeg.

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Jay Doering, a flood expert at the University of Manitoba, told 680 CJOB on Monday that the worst-case scenario for Manitoba at this point is flooding around the levels in 2011 — not the “flood of the century” back in 1997.

“There’s no real threat at this time — but certainly very inconvenient,” said Doering, adding he’s optimistic there will only be minor disruptions barring significantly heavy rain.

“It certainly could become challenging and could become quite inconvenient for residents of the Red River Valley, because if we do push beyond a 2011, I suspect we won’t be closing just a couple of ring dike communities, we’ll probably be closing all of them.”

Doering said once it flows past the floodway inlet, there’s minimal risk, which is the reason the floodway was constructed in the first place.

“For Manitoba, for Winnipeg to be a place where people are going to want to invest and set up their businesses, they can’t be under the continuous threat of flooding. So it was something that could simply never happen again.”

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