We Mourn the Loss of a Friend – Alf Warkentin, Flood Forecaster

By Scott Greenlay

Alfred “Alf” Warkentin, known to many as the trusted flood forecaster, passed away on June 14, 2019, at age 77 after losing his battle with Cancer. I had the honour of working with Alf for a brief time when our careers crossed at Manitoba Natural Resources. I remember Alf as a man with a sense of humour who took his job very seriously.

In 1970, Alf became Manitoba’s first Flood Forecaster and worked tirelessly for decades to help Manitobans understand and protect themselves from floods. Alf had a strong work ethic and dedication to his work. He often worked early mornings, late evenings and weekends – sacrificing time with his family so that he could help Manitobans through his reliable forecasts. Working with outdated equipment, limited budget and staff resources, Alf predicted the impact of the unpredictable – frost levels, snow melts, river flows, weather patterns and other unknowns – in order to provide Manitobans and governments advance warning to help us defend against the relentless force of flood water.

He is possibly best remembered for his efforts to ALMS members during the horrific flood of 2011, when at age 68, Alf came out of retirement to assist the Government, and us, in trying to get a hand on what was happening. He is, of course, also remembered for his work on the “Flood of the Century” in 1997 and as well as eight other major floods during his 41-year tenure. Its no surprise that Alf was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal by the Governor General of Canada in recognition of his contributions.

Born on a farm near Grunthal on July 25, 1941, Alf followed his interest in science, eventually obtaining a science degree Math and Physics, and later obtaining training in meteorology from the Government of Canada. Prior to his tenure with the Province of Manitoba in flood forecasting, Alf worked as a meteorologist in Churchill and Winnipeg.

He is survived by his wife Ursula; daughters, Zaley and Jade; and son Stefan. He is also survived by sisters, Irene, Marlies, and Hedy; and brothers, Werner and Peter.  A memorial will take place at 2:00 p.m. on July 6, 2019, at Westwood Community Church. Donations can be made to Agape Table, in lieu of flowers.

Thank you, Alf, for all you did for us, your unselfishness, and dedication to helping others. You were an inspiration and will be missed.

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