Red River Floodway expected to be activated again Saturday due to heavy rain, snowfall

The Red River Floodway is being put into use for a second time this spring as parts of southern Manitoba are hit with major precipitation this weekend, the province says.

The floodway was expected to be activated later Saturday to manage water levels in Winnipeg, a Saturday afternoon news release from the Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure Hydrologic Forecast Centre said.

That’s in response to a weather system that is forecast to bring heavy snow to parts of Manitoba.

Shortly after that release was issued, the province announced that Courchaine Road, from Turnbull Drive to St. Mary’s Road, just south of Winnipeg, will close at 6 p.m. Saturday due to floodway operation.

The floodway was operated earlier this month, but stopped as river levels receded from the earlier spring runoff.

The province said earlier this week that it would reactive the floodway if needed, and suggested that might happen as early as May 1 — meaning its reactivation Saturday would come a full week earlier than expected.

As a result of the rain and snow forecast for this weekend, an overland flood warning has also been issued for part of southern Manitoba, the release said.

That applies to the area from the Saskatchewan border to Highway 12 in eastern Manitoba, and from the United States border north to Highway 1.

The affected area also extends north of the Trans-Canada Highway, between highways 5 and 6, and between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg.

Overland flooding happens when water on the ground doesn’t have enough time to flow into rivers and streams, which can potentially flood low-lying areas, roads and properties.

The province said since high amounts of rainfall in a short period of time may cause overland flooding, people are warned that water levels may rise suddenly in affected areas.

Most basins in central and southern Manitoba have already gotten up to 40 millimetres of precipitation, with another 30 to 50 millimetres expected Saturday and Sunday. Some areas could get up to 80 millimetres by midday Monday, the release said.

And because some ditches and waterways are covered with ice or contain snow, water flows are also still limited.

Water levels on most tributaries in the Red River basin and along the river’s main stem are rising quickly because of recent rainfall and will keep rising over the coming days, the province says.

But with daily average temperatures forecast to drop below zero early next week, remaining snow is expected to melt slowly.

The Red River in Winnipeg is pictured on April 20. The province says water levels on most tributaries in the river’s basin and along its main stem are rising quickly because of recent rainfall and will keep rising over the coming days. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Flood forecasters will keep monitoring precipitation amounts in Manitoba and assess the effect on water flows and levels in the province. Updated river forecast information is available on the province’s website.

Manitoba’s Emergency Measures Organization is also still working with local authorities and emergency management partners to provide support to prepare for and respond to any flooding.