The Senior Climatologist with Environment Canada says parts of southern Manitoba came through one of the snowiest Decembers on record.
In the southern Red River Valley, between 75 to 120 centimetres of snow has already fallen. That is roughly the same amount as southern Manitoba gets in an entire winter. It is also very similar to how much fell at the same point in the winter leading up to the Flood Of The Century in 1997.
David Phillips says flood forecasters in Manitoba are scratching their heads. On the one hand, it really didn't begin to snow here before Remembrance Day. On the other hand, a lot of snow has already fallen.
But Phillips says there are many factors that can produce flooding and he cautions against panicking just yet. In addition to the amount of snow that falls in the first half of winter, there is also the amount that falls in the back end, how early spring arrives, how quickly they can break up the ice on the rivers and how much rain falls in spring.
"I wouldn't worry about it, I wouldn't hide under the bed worrying about that right now," says Phillips. "Just keep an eye on the sky and watch the weather and certainly when they issue their first flood forecast for February that will probably give some indication of the concern."
Then, there is the variable of how much snow falls south of the border. Phillips says when it comes to flooding, some of the misery is imported. He notes there have been some major Colorado lows that have already dumped heavy amounts of snow in Montana and North Dakota.
But Phillips says in southern Manitoba we don't have to wait for the spring thaw to begin seeing our snow pack disappear. He notes evaporation or sublimation can push snow from a solid state to gas without ever turning into liquid.
"Right now I think the issue is a little too much snow sitting on the ground than we would like but a lot of ways of getting rid of it before it becomes a problem," he says.
Phillips says for southern Manitoba this winter has almost been a case of pick your poison. He notes it has either been very snowy or very cold. But he says on the bright side, by the end of this week, the winter season will be halfway behind us.
During the winter of 1996-97, the Red River Valley had about 175 centimetres of snow prior to the big storm in early April, which dumped another 43 centimetres. By the time the last of the snow had fallen that year, snowfall amounts reached about 228 centimetres.