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Cold temperatures should prevent major flooding after storm, experts say

Tuesday, April 12th 2022, 8:15 am - Storm could bring between 30 to 50 cm of snow to Manitoba this week

As Manitobans brace for a one-in-a-generation storm, provincial officials say cold temperatures will be on our side in the flood fight.

Environment Canada is forecasting widespread snowfall of 30-50 centimetres for Manitoba as a Colorado low tracks over the province starting Tuesday night and lasting until Friday.

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It's definitely concerning, but the low temperatures in the forecast will likely prevent a major flood event, said Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk during a news conference Monday where he and other officials answered questions on how the province is preparing for the storm.

"If we do get a bunch of amount of snow, this is actually ideal for a slow melt," he said.

In contrast, an April 2011 winter storm was immediately followed by high temperatures which melted all the snow right away, he said.

"This actually allows that volume of water to move into the city, around the floodway, into Lake Winnipeg," he said.

"Hopefully in five or six days, the rivers will be able to take a lot of that water that's coming from the west and from the south."

This time around, the snow melt isn't expected to start until April 20, by which time water levels along the Red River and its tributaries should have dropped down, said Fisaha Unduche, who leads the province's hydrologic forecasting and water management team.

"So rivers will have more capacity and that's what we're expecting for now."

The Red River has now reached its peak between Emerson and St. Adolphe, the province said Saturday.

The province began operating the Red River Floodway on Friday morning in an effort to lower high water on the river through Winnipeg.

highway-204-flooded-out-near-east-selkirk The province's flood forecasters say they are keeping a close eye on the expected snowfall in Manitoba this week. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

PREPARE TO STAY PUT: MINISTER

News of the impending storm prompted some Manitobans to buy generators and stock up on groceries Monday.

Piwniuk said Manitobans should get their shopping out of the way Monday or Tuesday before the storm hits, and be prepared to hunker down for a couple of days.

"If you have to drive anywhere, drive now," he said.

"When it comes to getting any kind of supplies, I don't think it's a situation where you have to get everything off the shelves, but it's just basically prepare for two days and if you have to travel anywhere ... go now or wait until Friday."

The province hopes to have highways cleared by the weekend in time for the Easter holiday, Piwnuik said, but he cautioned that Manitobans shouldn't plan to travel before then.

Power outages are possible but the province is coordinating with Manitoba Hydro to plan ahead, said Johanu Botha, head of Manitoba's Emergency Management Organization.

This article was originally published for CBC News and written by Sarah Petz

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