Flood update: November 30

The flow readings at Fairford have now been corrected following gauge calibration earlier in the week. Fairford outflow is currently about 10,300 cfs.

The gauges on Lake Manitoba and the Waterhen River are ice-affected right now.

I’ll update the lake level when the gauges are back up, and will plan on making weekly updates for the rest of the winter. If anything significant changes, I’ll post that as information becomes available.

River update
Time: 9:30 AM Nov 30
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 5,401 cfs
Waterhen: gauge ice affected
Whitemud: 113 cfs
Fairford: 10,308 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 9:30 AM Nov 30
Steep Rock: ice affected
Westbourne: gauge offline
Lake St. Martin: 801.71 ft

Flood update: November 28

It appears that the gauges are now functioning again on the lakes, however the gauges on the rivers right now are still wonky. The outflow at Fairford still registers about 7500 cfs, but the calibration now two days ago indicated an actual flow of 9,900 cfs. Not much has changed since then. Lake Manitoba is falling ever so slightly at the moment, a hundredth of a foot every one or two days. If outflows at Fairford had been maintained at maximum levels we would be observing a noticeable drop in the lake level right now – the lake is still sitting above 813.6 feet.

The level of Lake St. Martin is falling fairly quickly right now. Had the Emergency Channel been opened fully and not partially from July onward, the level of Lake St. Martin would be much lower, and that would have reduced the need to lower flows at Fairford over winter.

We have not had an explanation from Minister Ashton as to why the Emergency Channel was not fully opened. When asked a direct question about this in the legislature this week, Minister Ashton blustered and bloviated. As usual he did not answer the question. He instead accused the opposition of reckless behaviour in the protest at the Portage Diversion in 2013.

Since 2011, with high winter flows at Fairford, we have usually seen flows at Waterhen fall first at ice-up, with flows at Fairford falling later – the reduced flows are due to ice buildup. This is the period, when Waterhen flows are low and Fairford flows are high, that Lake Manitoba drops fastest. Because of the winter operations policy of MIT, we are not seeing that this year. This is a missed opportunity to drop the lake level in advance of next spring, and has increased the likelihood of flooding next year on Lake Manitoba.

I’ll post another update on Sunday and will continue with weekly updates after that. If anything changes dramatically, I’ll update that too.

Lake update
Time: 9:00 AM Nov 28
Steep Rock: 813.72 ft
Westbourne: 813.50 ft
Mean level: 813.61 ft
Lake St. Martin: 801.73 ft

Flood update: November 27

Right now the gauge readings on Lake Manitoba, and the Waterhen and Fairford Rivers are a mess. The Steep Rock gauge indicates that the lake level fell a meter in the last day and is now sitting at 810.37 feet. This of course is not true, and the gauge is obviously malfunctioning. The flow reading on the Waterhen River is currently reading 16,800 cfs. This of course is not true being more than twice as high as the actual flow, and the gauge is malfunctioning. The flow reading at Fairford is currently 7519 cfs. However, a gauge calibration done yesterday at Fairford indicated a flow of 9,955 cfs. If the calibration is true, then the gauge estimates of flow are reading 2500 cfs too low. And if the calibration is true, then I expect that the flow readings will be corrected in the near future.

The gauge readings for Fairford fell below 10,000 cfs about two weeks ago when the lake was sitting at about 813.66 feet (15 November). Yesterday the lake was sitting at about 813.61 feet. If those levels are correct, then the lake has dropped 0.05 feet over the last two weeks, which would correspond to an outflow of about 2000 cfs. We don’t know what the inflow from Waterhen is right now, but before the ice jamming started to affect the gauge it was between 7000 and 8000 cfs. If that is still the case, then that would indicate that flows at Fairford are currently between 9000 and 10,000 cfs.

There seems no point in reporting gauge readings today that bear little relation to reality. I will report more information when it becomes available.

Flood update: November 26

Flows at Fairford (7537 cfs) remain well below the stated level (10,000 cfs) in the MIT winter operations policy.

The gauge on the Waterhen River is currently ice affected.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Lake Manitoba.
Today. Wind up to 15 km/h. Sunny. High minus 20. Wind chill minus 35.
Tonight. Wind light. Clear. Low minus 30.

River update
Time: 7:00 AM Nov 26
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 4,660 cfs
Waterhen: gauge ice affected
Whitemud: 120 cfs
Fairford: 7,537 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 7:00 AM Nov 26
Steep Rock: 813.71 ft
Westbourne: 813.52 ft
Mean level: 813.61 ft
Lake St. Martin: 801.83 ft

Flood update: November 25

Flows at Fairford (7554 cfs) remain well below the stated level (10,000 cfs) in the MIT winter operations policy. The level of Lake Manitoba has not changed since the flow reduction beginning November 6. With unrestricted outflows, this would normally be the time of year that the level of Lake Manitoba falls fastest.

The gauge on the Waterhen River is currently ice affected.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Lake Manitoba.
Today. Wind becoming north 20 km/h this afternoon. Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries this morning. High minus 12.

Tonight. Wind north 30 km/h. Clearing this evening. Low minus 25. Wind chill minus 36.

River update
Time: 6:30 AM Nov 25
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 5,048 cfs
Waterhen: gauge ice affected
Whitemud: 106 cfs
Fairford: 7,554 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 6:30 AM Nov 25
Steep Rock: 813.71 ft
Westbourne: 813.53 ft
Mean level: 813.62 ft
Lake St. Martin: no data

Flood update: November 24

The gauges were offline this morning thus the afternoon update.

Flows at Fairford (7519 cfs) remain well below the stated level (10,000 cfs) in the MIT winter operations policy.

The gauge on the Waterhen River is currently ice affected.

Environment Canada marine forecast (3:00 AM CDT)
 
Lake Manitoba.
Tonight. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light early this evening. Increasing cloudiness early this evening. Temperature steady near minus 14.

Tuesday. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h in the afternoon. Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of light snow in the afternoon. High minus 12.

River update
Time: 5:30 PM Nov 24
Portage Diversion: closed
Assiniboine at Holland: 5,013 cfs
Waterhen: gauge ice affected
Whitemud: 120 cfs
Fairford: 7,554 cfs
 
Lake update
Time: 5:30 PM Nov 24
Steep Rock: 813.70 ft
Westbourne: 813.53 ft
Mean level: 813.62 ft
Lake St. Martin: no data