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Manitoba’s most flooded regions

Every year the threat of floods looms over Manitoba – where and when has the worst flooding occurred?
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Jordan Hale and Greg J. Smith, May 8, 2013 11:55:43 AM

Spring has sprung a bit late across Canada – winter jackets hung around past March, the cherry blossoms lay dormant for a few extra weeks, and the lack of patio weather put a dent in bar tabs across the country. While April showers bring May flowers in many places in Canada, the gradual warming that accompanies this passage of time usually signals the beginning of flood season in Manitoba. This week’s map looks at the government’s peak flow predictions for a number of different locations across the southern half of the province, comparing this month’s forecast with the most raging levels that have ever measured.

The good news is that scientists aren’t predicting any record-breaking surges this year, as Manitoba rivers will do a good job at not cresting their banks. Keep in mind when looking at this map that larger circles don’t indicate which rivers are more likely to flood, just the intensity of water moving downstream. Comparing the relative size of two concentric circles will give you an idea of what is expected for this spring’s thaw in relation to major flood incidents in recent memory – mouse over each pair of circles to get a sense of how much water is being moved around. Many of the record-breaking measurements occurred due to abundant snowfall and in recent years extremely warm springs have heightened concerns. Nowhere was this more perfectly illustrated than the 1997 Red River flood where waters overran swaths of Winnipeg, Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and nearby American neighbours in Fargo, North Dakota. This was the worst flooding in the region since 1826 and resulted in mass evacuations in Grand Forks and $3.5 billion (USD) in regional damages. In the last fifteen years, significant investments have been made in flood mitigation infrastructure in the province, leading to fewer states of emergency being called than in previous years – however, these diversionary measures aren’t working out for everyone. How will Manitobans adapt to the increasingly unpredictable weather patterns associated with global warming? Tune in next year…

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Jordan Hale and Greg J. Smith

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