Historical flood information

Winnipeg has experienced many river flooding events in the past, including the flood of 1950 and the flood of 1997, also known as the flood of the century.

Historical flood river levels at James Avenue

Peak Red River levels in Winnipeg at James Avenue (in feet)
Year Spring floods Summer/Fall floods
2021 No spring flood
2020 18.9 April 23
2019 17.7 April 15 17.2 October 23
2018 15.7 April 30
2017 19.5 April 1
2016 18.1 March 18
2015 No spring flood
2014 19.1 April 22 17.6 July 2
2013 18.2 May 2
2012 No spring flood
2011 20.8 April 7 17.7 July 8
2010 18.5 April 2
2009 22.6 April 16 15.0 July 4
2008 No spring flood
2007 17.9 April 11 16.1 June 29
2006 20.4 April 7
2005 19.2 April 7 20.2 July 3 & 4
2004 19.0 April 4 15.3 June 9
2003 No spring flood
2002 No spring flood 17.3 June 15
2001 18.5 April 7
2000 No spring flood 15.6 July 8 & 9
1999 17.4 April 10
1998 17.2 March 31
1997 24.5 May 3
1996 19.4 April 28
1996 19.4 April 28
1979 19.3
1966 26.3*
1950 30.3*
1861 33*
1852 35*
1826 37*

Only peaks over 15 feet James are shown.

As reference, the normal summer river level is 6.5 feet James while the River Walkway level is 8.5 feet James.

* Before construction of the Floodway. Historic 1800's flood highwater data comes from Sir Sanford Fleming Surveys (1879) and recorded in 1 foot intervals only.

The flood of 1997

In spring 1997, the city experienced its largest flood event of the 20th century. The main cause of the flood was a large snowstorm that brought a large amount of unexpected snow to the city in early April 1997.

River levels were already high on the Red River, and when the unexpected snow from the April storm melted, the water had nowhere to go, causing the Red River to flood.

Flood of 1997 timeline

  • February 26 & 27, 1997
    The Province of Manitoba issues their flood forecast and the City starts preparing for the flood.

  • March 21, 1997
    The Province of Manitoba issues their second flood forecast. Sandbag production is underway using one sandbag machine.

  • March 25, 1997
    The first deliveries of sandbags are delivered so secondary dike building can begin.

  • April 5-8, 1997
    Winnipeg was hit was an unprecedented, late season snowstorm, which brought a large amount of unexpected snow to the city. Sandbag production continues, using two sandbag machines.

  • April 16, 1997
    The City’s flood hotline goes public (the City did not have a 311 Contact Centre at the time).
    The City’s flood hotline goes public (the City did not have a 311 Contact Centre at the time).
  • April 20, 1997
    The Province updates its flood forecast, predicting river levels will peak at 24.5 feet James.

  • April 21, 1997
    The floodway operation begins. The City partners with Cable TV Channel 11, a local public broadcaster, to provide the main source of flood information to residents and the media.
    The floodway operation begins. The City partners with Cable TV Channel 11, a local public broadcaster, to provide the main source of flood information to residents and the media.
  • April 22, 1997
    The City opens a reception centre in St. Vital and starts delivering information packages about evacuation procedures to affected residents.

  • April 23, 1997
    Mayor Susan A. Thompson declares a local state of emergency and orders the first mandatory evacuation. A third sandbag machine is added to help produce more sandbags.
    Mayor Susan A. Thompson declares a local state of emergency and orders the first mandatory evacuation. A third sandbag machine is added to help produce more sandbags.
  • April 26, 1997
    The Province of Manitoba determines many homes would be at risk if the Brunkild Dike fails. The City notifies residents of St. Norbert and St. Germaine/Vermette that they are on a 24-hour evacuation alert.

  • April 29, 1997
    More than 3,000 military personnel from CFB Pettawawa are sent to help with the flood fighting efforts. Building of the St. Norbert earth dike continues and a fourth sandbag machine is brought in to make sandbags. Dike patrols begin 24-hour monitoring.

    More than 3,000 military personnel from CFB Pettawawa are sent to help with the flood fighting efforts. Building of the St. Norbert earth dike continues and a fourth sandbag machine is brought in to make sandbags. Dike patrols begin 24-hour monitoring.
  • April 30, 1997
    Residents of St. Norbert are evacuated. The flood hotline receives more than 12,500 calls in 24 hours.
    Residents of St. Norbert are evacuated. The flood hotline receives more than 12,500 calls in 24 hours.
  • May 1, 1997
    The Red River crests at 24.5 feet James.

  • May 5, 1997
    The Provencher Bridge closes due to structural damage caused by high river levels.

  • May 7, 1997
    Sandbag production ends and some residents are allowed to return home.

  • May 10, 1997
    All evacuees return home and dike removal begins.
    All evacuees return home and dike removal begins
  • May 13, 1997
    Military personnel return home.
    Military personnel return home.
  • May 23, 1997
    Mayor Susan A. Thompson sounds the all-clear.
    Mayor Susan A. Thompson sounds the all-clear.
  • July 14, 1997
    The Provencher Bridge is repaired and re-opens.

Flood fighting efforts - 1997

The majority (99.9 percent) of Winnipeg residents were protected by major flood infrastructure, such as the Shellmouth Dam and Reservoir, Portage Diversion, Red River Floodway and Winnipeg’s Primary Diking System during the 1997 Flood.

To help protect the residents whose properties were at risk of river flooding, more than 3,000 City employees worked together to:

  • Evacuate more than 9,000 residents (representing 3,000 homes), primarily in the south end of the city
  • Build secondary dikes to protect 800 properties within the city
  • Train and coordinate more than 70,000 volunteers to help build the secondary dikes
  • Fill and deliver more than 8 million sandbags
  • Excavate more than 45,000 truckloads (600,000 cubic meters) of clay
  • Raise the primary diking system by an average of three feet at 25 different locations
  • Operate all 34 of the City’s flood pumping stations
  • Provide emergency medical services where needed
  • Operate a Flood Hotline for residents
  • Monitor waterways by boat and deliver supplies to properties not accessible by land
  • Regularly update the public and media on the flood fight
  • Provide emergency services for evacuated residents, such as food, clothing and shelter
  • Help evacuated residents return to their homes safely once the flood risk ended

Flood of 1997 photos

246 Kingston Crescent - Be Gentle Mighty Red
Kingston Crescent - Signage
Roslyn Road - view of Legislative Building
Scotia Street - military personnel at dike
City Hall - Mayor's press conference
Scotia Street - making sandbags
St. Anne's Road at Forrester Avenue - loading sandbags for Grande Pointe at City Yard
Red River Drive - dike
Pembina Highway
Rue Des Trappistes - dike and pumps
The Forks - view of the confluence
Scotia Street Dike
Floodway Gates
Turnbull Drive - earthen and sandbag dike
Portage Avenue - military parade
Military in Winnipeg, City of Winnipeg Photo.

Flood of 1950

During the 1950 flood, more than 100,000 people were forced from their homes and 10,000 homes were flooded as one-eighth of Winnipeg was submerged by flood waters.

Flood of 1950 photos

An aerial view of St. Vital
An aerial view of The Forks
Assiniboine Avenue
A CNR Railroad Line
The rising waters under a railway crossing
Houses in the neighbourhood of Elm Park
A flooded commercial area of Winnipeg
The rising Red River with the Fort Garry Hotel in the background
A gauge board measuring the river level
A view of the Osborne Street bridge looking north toward the Parliament Buildings
The waters under the Provencher Street Bridge
The community of Riverview
A sandbag dike
A sandbag dike

Was this information helpful?

How can we make this web page better?

Information collected will be used to improve our website. Do not use this form to submit a request for service or information because it will not be forwarded to departments for response. To submit a request for service or information, contact 311.

This form is not intended to collect personal information; however, any personal information you choose to include in your comments is collected by the City of Winnipeg under the authority of section 36(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the purpose of improving our website and will not be used or disclosed for any other purposes, except as authorized by law. Contact the Corporate Access and Privacy Officer by mail (City Clerk’s Department, Susan A. Thompson Building, 510 Main Street, Winnipeg MB, R3B 1B9) or by telephone (311) if you have any questions about the collection of this information.

Ces renseignements sont-ils utiles?

Comment pourrait-on améliorer cette page Web?

Les renseignements recueillis serviront à l’amélioration de notre site Web. Prière de ne pas se servir de ce formulaire pour soumettre une demande de service ou de renseignements, car la demande ne sera pas transmise au service en question. Pour soumettre une demande de service ou de renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec le 311.

Le présent formulaire ne vise pas à recueillir des renseignements personnels. Cependant, les renseignements personnels que vous choisissez d’inclure dans vos commentaires sont recueillis par la Ville de Winnipeg en conformité avec l’alinéa 36(1)b) de la Loi sur l’accès à l’information et la protection de la vie privée dans le but d’améliorer son site Web et ne seront ni utilisés ni divulgués pour d’autres raisons, sauf dans les cas où cela est autorisé par la loi. Communiquez avec l’agent de l’accès à l’information et de la protection de la vie privée de la Ville par courrier au Bureau du greffier, immeuble Susan-A.-Thompson, 510, rue Main, Winnipeg (Manitoba) R3B 1B9, ou par téléphone au 311 si vous avez des questions sur la collecte de ces renseignements.