25 Winnipeg homes need sandbagging, city says

Twenty-five city properties need sandbag dikes built as a precaution, the city said Saturday.

Another 25 property owners are on standby, but don't immediately require dikes.

On Thursday, the city said all 50 properties might need to be protected.

The province of Manitoba activated the Red River Floodway on Friday as part of a bid to cut the flood risk for Winnipeg.

The 47-kilometre-long floodway channel diverts part of the Red River's flow around the east side of Winnipeg, from an inlet near St. Norbert to an outlet near Lockport, Man.

The Assiniboine River is also high. On Saturday morning, water from the river spilled over into a parking lot on Roslyn Road, across the river from the Manitoba legislature.

Scott Lobban lives in the condo building where the parking lot has flooded. He said it last flooded in 2014, and about eight cars had to move due to the rising water this weekend.

The city said officials will be visiting the 25 properties at risk of flooding Saturday and property owners will be asked to stay on stand-by.

Officials with the city have thousands of sandbags ready to go in the event the homes need to be protected, but didn't say where the homes at risk of flooding are located.

On Saturday afternoon, the province said the water level at James Avenue in Winnipeg rose overnight to 19.4 feet above normal winter ice levels — a measure commonly referred to as "James." That was an increase of 1.2 feet, after an upstream ice run created a flow surge downstream.

With the floodway in operation, water levels could decline to 19.0 feet James on Sunday, the province tweeted.

The Portage Diversion is limiting flows on the lower Assiniboine River to help minimize ice jamming, the province said. Major tributaries of the Assiniboine River are still increasing, the province added, and there is still ice on the Assiniboine between Portage la Prairie and Headingly.

The Shellmouth Reservoir has been drawn down to prepare for spring run-off and the reservoir's liaison committee is meeting on Monday to figure out operating plans.

There is overland flooding across much of southern Manitoba because of ice in the drainage network, the province said. 

The Red River and its tributaries are rising rapidly. There are significant increases on the Morris River, which flows under a bridge where Highway 75 leads into the town of Morris, about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg; and the La Salle River, which is west of Winnipeg, the province said. 

As a precautionary measure to maintain travel on the highway through Morris, the province is building a ramp at the north end of town near the river, the province said. 

Flood warnings are in effect for Fisher, Morris and Pembina rivers as well as Pipestone Creek. 

There are high-water advisories in effect for the Overflowing, Valley and Vermillion Rivers, and flood watches for the Turtle, Woody, Swan, Whitemud and Red Deer rivers. 

Water levels and flows on the Pembina River, which runs through northeastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba, are stabilizing.

Lake levels above average

In a news release, the province said with temperatures above average across southern Manitoba, more melting and run-off is expected, although the majority of snow remaining in the region is in wooded areas. 

There is still snowpack from the Souris River Basin to the Riding Mountain area and into northern Manitoba. 

"A combination of rapid melt, ice jamming and blocked culverts may lead to a rapid rise in water levels on tributaries and may cause localized overland flooding. Municipal and provincial crews are actively thawing culverts on a priority basis," the news release said. 

Overland flooding has also been reported on the Peguis River First Nation.

Manitoba's major lakes have above-average water levels for this time of year and are all still covered in ice, the province said, adding "the Fairford Water Control Structure is being operated for maximum possible discharge" from Lake Manitoba.