Sodden spring ranks second in history

·4 min read

Brandon has emerged from its second wettest meteorological spring in history, according to data.

Saturated fields, pooled roadways and flooded homes have become commonplace in Brandon — and much of Manitoba — this year, as residents continue to tread through heavy rainfalls.

Five Colorado lows have swept through southern Manitoba, pouring 189 millimetres of rain over Brandon alone, through May 30.

The spring started like any other, when March saw just 8.9 mm of rain. A soggy April skeptically welcomed 55.3mm of precipitation before another 125.4 mm drenched the city in May.

"Already, we have an indication that this has been a very wet spring," said Natalie Hasell, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.

It hasn’t been long since Brandon had a similarly wet season, though.

Data shows 2010 being the last time the city experienced a season nearly as damp, when 185.6 mm of rain fell.

This year’s 189 mm slightly edged the 188.8 mm recorded in 1964, but is still a distant second from the record 229.2 mm that inundated Brandon and surrounding areas in 1999.

Since the meteorological spring runs from Mar. 1 through May 31, the city would’ve needed another 40.2 mm of rain on Tuesday to match the wettest year in history since data started to be collected.

The historical average, recorded since 1941, in Brandon is 103.4 mm. The latest Canadian climate normal, which shows the median from 1981-2010, is 109.5 mm.

"With this system, we’ve also seen really strong winds, meaning lots of power outages," Hasell said. "Some parts of the province were without power for extended periods of time."

More concerns surround farmers, who are four weeks behind schedule and racing to seed their crops, potentially raising the cost of food in some cases, major infrastructure and long-term expenses coming from repairs.

Brandon’s past experience with large rainfalls has come in handy, according to Tobin Praznik, emergency manager for the City of Brandon.

"We’re quite fortunate," he said. "All the work from a mitigation perspective, that infrastructure has put us in a fairly good place to handle this."

The city is still waiting to assess the impact of the masses of water in parks and other big fields, but doesn’t expect summer projects to be delayed too long, Praznik said.

His biggest concern lies with the river’s still-high water levels as Brandon enters severe weather season.

"We’re not out of the woods," he said. "[But] we’re obviously in a much better place now than we’ve been in the past."

Praznik praised how efficient each department was while working through the previous eight weeks, saying they have simply re-prioritized responisbilities along the way.

"A lot of our departments have been able to stay on top of it. Priorities might be shifted but [the rain] has really put these departments on alert."

Two benefits from the mass of rain in many areas of Manitoba will be replenished water reservoirs and little concern for dry land, Hasell said.

"The drought is certainly not a concern anymore in most of southern Manitoba, while it still was earlier this year, and drinking water should not be much of a concern."

Environment Canada was unable to provide an official forecast for Brandon for the rest of 2022.

"What we know is that areas that are wet tend to continue to be wet," she said. "Any storms that come over this area in the coming season will have moisture to tap into, not only from a distance but also locally."

Hasell said it could mean future storms will be more significant, but it could also mean the city sees fewer storms.

Still, she urged residents to be careful while water levels drop.

"Don’t walk, drive or swim in flood waters. Stay away from ditches and culverts, and drains. Know where your children are, keep them away from flood waters."

Hasell said Manitobans should continue to prepare for all things that come with normal summers.

"We’ll still get the heat, we’ll still get smoke from forest fires.

"Now is the time to update emergency supply kits so you’re prepared for what could come next."

» jfrey-sam@brandonsun.com

Joshua Frey-Sam, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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