Flood update: October 31

The winds have been changing direction frequently in the last few days, making it very difficult to get a read on the overall lake level. It appears that Lake Manitoba is below flood level right now, but by how much is difficult to estimate.

I will stop reporting flows on the Assiniboine at Portage tomorrow, as Environment Canada indicates that gauge readings after October 31st are not valid. There was a jump in the Assiniboine flow recorded flow from yesterday, but this appears to be a gauge recalibration, not an actual increase in flow.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Strong wind warning in effect.
Wind southeast 10 knots increasing to south 20 late this morning and to south 30 late this evening. Wind diminishing to south 20 Saturday evening.

River update
Time: 7:00 AM Oct 31
Portage Diversion: closed
Lower Assiniboine: 5,577 cfs
Waterhen: 7,907 cfs
Whitemud: 247 cfs
Fairford: 12,355 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 7:00 AM Oct 31
Steep Rock: 813.65 ft
Westbourne: 813.78 ft
Mean level: 813.71 ft
Lake St. Martin: 802.44 ft

Flood update: 30 October

Strong north winds are raising the lake level in the south basin this morning. The current net outflow (Fairford minus Waterhen and Whitemud) is about 3000 cfs, enough to drop the lake level 2 inches a month. Lake St. Martin remains high, not having dropped in the last two months.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Strong wind warning in effect.
Wind north 20 knots diminishing to northeast 15 late this evening and to light after midnight. Wind becoming south 10 Friday morning then increasing to south 20 Friday afternoon. Wind increasing to south 30 Friday evening.

River update
Time: 6:30 AM Oct 30
Portage Diversion: closed
Lower Assiniboine: 4,307 cfs
Waterhen: 8,896 cfs
Whitemud: 254 cfs
Fairford: 12,179 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 6:30 AM Oct 30
Steep Rock: 813.75 ft
Westbourne: 814.50 ft
Mean level: 814.12 ft
Lake St. Martin: 802.71 ft

Flood update: October 29

North winds continue to push water southward this morning.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Strong wind warning in effect.
Wind north 10 knots becoming light early this morning then becoming west 10 late this morning. Wind backing to south 10 early this afternoon then becoming northeast 10 after midnight. Wind increasing to north 20 Thursday morning and to north 25 Thursday afternoon. Wind diminishing to north 15 Thursday evening.

River update
Time: 6:00 AM Oct 29
Portage Diversion: closed
Lower Assiniboine: 4,342 cfs
Waterhen: 8,896 cfs
Whitemud: 261 cfs
Fairford: 12,355 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 6:00 AM Oct 29
Steep Rock: 813.75 ft
Westbourne: 814.14 ft
Mean level: 813.94 ft
Lake St. Martin: 802.66 ft

Flood update: October 28

Strong north winds are pushing water southward this morning. The level at Westbourne rose steadily overnight. The Steep Rock and Westbourne gauges are currently offline this morning. I have posted the most recent available water level readings from about 7:00 AM.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Strong wind warning in effect.
Wind north 25 knots increasing to north 30 late this morning then diminishing to north 20 late this evening. Wind diminishing to north 10 overnight then becoming light Wednesday morning. Wind becoming south 10 Wednesday afternoon then becoming light Wednesday evening.

River update
Time: 8:00 AM Oct 28
Portage Diversion: closed
Lower Assiniboine: 4,337 cfs
Waterhen: 9,284 cfs
Whitemud: 272 cfs
Fairford: 12,284 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 7:00 AM Oct 28
Steep Rock: 813.86 ft
Westbourne: 814.53 ft
Mean level: 814.20 ft
Lake St. Martin: 802.76 ft (8:00 AM)

Flood update: October 27

The Steep Rock and Westbourne gauges are offline this morning.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Strong wind warning in effect.
Wind southwest 20 knots veering to northwest 20 late this morning then diminishing to northwest 15 early this afternoon. Wind increasing to north 25 overnight and to north 30 Tuesday morning. Wind diminishing to north 20 Tuesday evening.

River update
Time: 6:00 AM Oct 27
Portage Diversion: closed
Lower Assiniboine: 4,483 cfs
Waterhen: 8,401 cfs
Whitemud: 275 cfs
Fairford: 12,885 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 6:00 AM Oct 27
Steep Rock: no data
Westbourne: no data
Mean level: no data
Lake St. Martin: 802.68 ft

The USA approach to prevent the impact of another Hurricane Sandy has much for Manitobans to consider

Today’s New York Times front page features an article about the activities being undertaken by the federal, state, and municipal governments as a result of what they’ve been taught by Hurricane Sandy and how they are working to prevent a future disaster.

More importantly, for us in Manitoba, its an example that we should actively consider following. Consider the lessons we can learn from them:

1) While they`re worried about New York City, they’re just as worried about Mantoloking, New Jersey – a community of 296 people, roughly the same as a Delta Beach or Twin Beaches. They`re worried about a soybean farmer on the Delmarva Peninsula. They understand it’s not just about protecting “The Big Apple”, but also about protecting small communities and farms – everyone.

Lesson: There is no theme of “too bad you live in a small community near water”. Too often in Manitoba we hear themes of “too close to the Lake” or “too bad you choose to live near water”. Flooding is everyone’s problem – and protecting a farm near Lake Manitoba or a home on the Lake is just as important as protecting homes along the river in Headingley. Lets not turn neighbour against neighbour, and instead focus on solving the problem. 

2) They`re engaging help from all around the world – to make sure they get the best advice possible. They’re using experts from as far away as Denmark, who understand how to fight big waves and big storms.

Lesson: Our problems on Lake Manitoba are very much beyond the expertise our government has built around river flooding. We have serious coastal erosion and wave damage issues brought by years of high water management policy. The help and advice from people who’ve dealt with the impact of high water on large inland oceans would be invaluable. We do have great and smart people in Manitoba – all the more reason for us to acknowledge the limits of our experience. Why not leverage the experience of others? If New York is willing to do so, why not us? We need to engage experience from top experts on wave mitigation, water management, and coastal erosion – from around the world. Leveraging their experience will save us billions of dollars and avoid learning from the “school of hard knocks” in the future. 

3) They aren’t focusing on one mega solution – They are fighting on many fronts – Small and large measures are being used – some which can make a difference now.

Lesson: While a drainage channel is needed, and should have been built years ago, what about a multi-prong strategy of upper and lower Assiniboine capacity building, better lake management, and permanent wave mitigation? What about shoreline restoration? 

4) They aren`t blaming mother nature or people for choosing to live and farm near the water. They`re accepting the new reality and actively building to protect everyone.

Lesson:Much time and energy has been spent in Manitoba trying to link the Flood of 2011 to Mother Nature. Further energy has been spent blaming people for living close to water(which they have done since Manitoba was settled, as water is, and always has been, important to life). Its high time we follow the example of the Hurricane Sandy governments and accept that regardless of cause, high water, high winds and flooding are now a reality.  Lets focus on the present, not the past. 

5) In the United States, all three levels of government are owning this as their problem – Federal, State and City. They even have a Presidential Task force set-up.

Lesson: As flooding in Manitoba is a national problem, much of it a result of our neighbours, a multi-jurisdictional strategy could really help. Our Federal government has substantially more people and monetary resources, they have the ability to deal substantially with the inter-provincial and international sources of much of our flood waters. Sure we may have a constitution that says it’s a provincial issue – but its pretty obvious our forefathers didn’t envision the inter-jurisdictional complexities and costs of water management. Why not lead the charge for helping solve some of these problems? Why is Manitoba left to largely funding and try to solve a problem mostly a result of water from two other provinces and two other states? We live at the “end of the pipe” of water that is managed(or not managed) by others…and yet we pay the price of dealing with the flood water and building protection. Its not right or fair. Only our Federal government has the effective ability to deal with international and inter-provincial issues of this magnitude.  So why not lead the charge for solving the problem? 

Conclusion: In Manitoba we have a century old tradition of learning from others and using this knowledge to make Manitoba a great place to live. Lets learn from our southern neighbours and make Manitoba safe from floods for ourselves and our children. Lets start now.
– Scott Greenlay

To read the article from the New York Times, click here. 

Flood update: October 26

The mean level of Lake Manitoba is just below flood level today.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Strong wind warning in effect.
Wind southeast 10 knots increasing to southeast 20 late this morning and to southeast 25 early this afternoon. Wind diminishing to south 15 late this evening then increasing to west 20 after midnight. Wind diminishing to southwest 10 overnight then becoming light Monday afternoon. Wind becoming north 15 Monday evening.

River update
Time: 9:00 AM Oct 26
Portage Diversion: closed
Lower Assiniboine: 4,501 cfs
Waterhen: 8,119 cfs
Whitemud: 282 cfs
Fairford: 12,990 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 9:00 AM Oct 26
Steep Rock: 813.98 ft
Westbourne: 813.91 ft
Mean level: 813.94 ft
Lake St. Martin: 802.52 ft