News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

February 18, 2014

FOUR AMPHIBEX ICEBREAKING MACHINES BEGIN OPENING CHANNEL TO REDUCE POTENTIAL ICE JAMMING ON NORTH RED RIVER: PREMIER SELINGER



The 22-tonne Amphibex machines are breaking through the ice on areas of the Red River with a history of ice jamming.  The icebreakers can also be transported by heavy truck to other areas of the province if ice-jam issues develop on other rivers, Premier Selinger said.  

“We’ve seen the damage ice-jam-related flooding can have for communities; it’s unpredictable and can develop rapidly,” said the premier.  “Working around the clock, our icebreaking fleet and the 28 dedicated people who operate the equipment are recognized across the continent for the incredible success they have protecting families and businesses.”

Since last Monday, ice-cutting machines have been creating a grid pattern so the Amphibex equipment can break the ice and enable its movement to reduce the potential for ice jamming.  Two‑person crews pilot the vessels with safety and support crews on hand.  Global positioning systems have been installed on the icebreakers and cutters to track exactly where raking and cuts have been made.  Ground-penetrating radar is used before cutting begins to determine ice thickness and to guide the ice-cutting and breaking operations.

The provincial ice-mitigation fleet consists of four Amphibex AE 400 icebreaking machines, seven ice‑cutting machines, and seven amphibious transport and support vehicles.  The Amphibex icebreakers are operated and maintained by North Red Community Water Maintenance Inc., formed with provincial assistance by the rural municipalities of St. Andrews and St. Clements, and the City of Selkirk.  

The Amphibex was first used in Manitoba in 2006.  At that time, the provincial fleet was able to break about six kilometres of river ice each year.  Since then, enhanced structural strength and hydraulics improvements have enabled the fleet to crush more than 25 km annually.

Notices have been posted in areas where the Amphibex machines will be working as a safety reminder for ice fishers, snowmobile enthusiasts and other river users.  Ice fishers are reminded to remove huts or other material in the areas covered by the ice-mitigation program.

The premier noted that additional flood-fighting equipment includes:

  •     two million regular sandbags;
  •     six sandbag-making machines;
  •     17,000 super sandbags;
  •     43 km of Hesco cage barriers, into which sand or other heavy material is placed;
  •     50 km of water-filled barriers, of which 22 km are in rapid-response trailers;
  •     34 mobile pumps; and
  •     61 heavy-duty steamers. 

The premier said the province has appointed a new chief flood forecaster who will be introduced to Manitobans next week in advance of the first flood outlook.

“Our new chief forecaster joins a team that is one of the most experienced flood-forecasting units in the country and likely the continent.  They have unique shared experience of working during the largest, longest flood in Manitoba’s history,” said Premier Selinger.  “There are currently 12 dedicated professionals who work at the forecast centre year-round including three senior forecasters and an executive director with more than 60 years of combined experience.”

The Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Hydrologic Forecast Centre reports while it is too early to estimate the spring run-off potential, at this time and subject to further weather events, Manitoba river basin conditions indicate the flood potential appears to be significantly below that of 2011 and 2013.  The centre also reports:

  • Soil moisture conditions at the time of freeze-up on the Red River were below normal in Manitoba and normal in most parts of the U.S.  The Qu’Appelle River is mainly below normal.  The Saskatchewan River shows below normal to normal in southern Manitoba.  The Assiniboine River shows near-normal to above-normal conditions.  The Souris River, which empties into the Assiniboine, is near normal to above normal. 
  • Snow conditions were near normal or below normal for much of the province and the U.S. portion of the Red River Basin, although winter precipitation along the Assiniboine River upstream of the Shellmouth Reservoir and the Souris River were above normal for the month of January.  
  • The Qu’Appelle, Souris and lower Assiniboine river winter flows were above normal in January due to lowering of reservoirs in Saskatchewan and North Dakota, which will increase the reservoirs’ capacity to deal with spring precipitation and run-off.
  • Lake Manitoba is within its normal operation range.  Lakes Dauphin, Winnipegosis and St. Martin were above normal levels in January.                     

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