The snow keeps falling, and the river keeps rising, but the province assures us that it won't be up to the 1997 levels. The problem this year is that it was so cold, for so long this winter that the river is overflowing its banks before it properly thaws. The floodway only works when ice jams don't plug up the river further downstream.
I wish that I had brought my camera with me today so that I could snap some pictures of it on the way home. The water has risen so fast that the original river has been preserved as a long strand of ice running down the middle, floating on top of it like a giant ice cube. It's both fascinating, and alarming at the same time when you see the narrow band of ice and think, "a few days ago that was the river."
Here are the river levels in Winnipeg from a few select years, including the significant flood years of 1997 and 2006, and a few other years as reference points. Note how quickly, and how early the current levels are going up.
I've heard unconfirmed word that the river has already breached the levees in Fargo. Since the 1997 flood was a freakish "once every few centuries" event, they shored up their dikes to withstand another flood of that magnitude. What are the odds of seeing another flood like that in this lifetime, eh? Well, they were partly right - this one is worse. I feel bad for the people in Grand Forks. They got all-but wiped off the map in the last great flood, and this one looks like it is going to be worse.
I'm betting that ND wishes now that they had spent more of their 1997 federal relief money building bigger dikes rather then spending it on toys like the Fargo Dome. =/