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Snowmelt runoff prediction in Canada bolsters outlook for uneventful spring flooding season

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MINOT, North Dakota — A snowmelt runoff outlook from officials in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is bolstering expectations of an uneventful spring flooding season in the Souris River basin.

Snowpack in the Souris River watershed in southern Saskatchewan is below normal, with much of it melting in late January, according to the provincial Water Security Agency. That has allayed fears of significant spring runoff prompted by many areas last fall reporting high soil moisture conditions heading into freeze-up.

"Assuming near-normal precipitation during the remaining winter months and a normal melt rate, near-normal snowmelt runoff is expected across most of the southern half of the province," the agency said in its report released Monday.

The National Weather Service in North Dakota late last month also said the potential for spring flooding in the Souris basin is normal to well below normal.

In June 2011, heavy spring snowmelt and rains flooded the river. The high water damaged or destroyed more than 4,000 homes, business and other structures in Minot, and caused damage throughout the basin.

The weather service and the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency will continue to monitor conditions in the basin until the spring flooding season passes.

The International Souris River Board, which governs river management, meets in February each year. One of its tasks is to determine whether spring runoff will be great enough to declare a flood season and begin making revisions to the operation of flood-storage reservoirs on both sides of the border. This year's meeting is Feb. 26 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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