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Bank study says economic cost of weather catastrophes is under-appreciated

OTTAWA - As a return on investment, Duff's Ditch has been a spectacular success. Manitoba's Red River Floodway, built by premier Duff Roblin for just under $63 million in the mid-1960s with the federal government covering 60 per cent of the cost, has spared the city of Winnipeg an estimated $30 billion in flood damages in the nearly half century since it was completed in 1968. Now, with severe weather events becoming increasingly frequent and costly, economists are urging government policy-makers to consider the long-term benefits of major infrastructure investments.

Southern Ontario, Quebec on flood watch with heavy rains on the way

BELLEVILLE, Ont. - Teams of volunteers in southern Ontario and Quebec were preparing for flooding with walls of sandbags on Sunday as they awaited heavy rain expected to hit parts of both provinces over the next several days. Environment Canada said some areas in Ontario could get up to 75 millimetres of rain by early Tuesday, while upwards of 45 millimetres of rain was expected in southern and central Quebec. "The frozen ground has a reduced ability to absorb this rainfall," Environment Canada said in a statement. "Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible."

The winter that won't die prompts crashes, snowfall warnings across Prairies

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - The winter that wouldn't die continues to plague the Prairies. Snowfall advisories were issued Friday in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while in northern Alberta heavy snow and poor road conditions were considered factors in a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 63, the main road to the oilsands town of Fort McMurray. No one suffered life-threatening injuries in the pileup but RCMP said several people had been taken to hospital. That, combined with collisions on other roads in the area, prompted RCMP to warn against travelling on the highways in the area.

Cyclone batters Australia's Great Barrier Reef coast

A tropical cyclone battered Australia's Barrier Reef coast Saturday, knocking out power and phone lines for thousands of people and threatening floods, despite weakening as it headed south towards major tourist resorts. Tens of thousands of people hunkered down overnight as strong gales and heavy rains lashed the far north, but no casualties or major destruction was reported as cyclone Ita was downgraded to a category one storm.

Skipping through tulips in southern B.C. as other areas mauled by Mother Nature

VANCOUVER - A public weather alert is in effect across Vancouver Island and B.C.'s south coast but residents aren't grabbing snow shovels — instead they could be running barefoot through the grass. Environment Canada says a weekend of balmy weather is ahead, with temperatures across the entire region as much as five degrees above normal. That could push the mercury to nearly 20 degrees in some inland communities, which is warm even for Canada's cosiest climate.

Creeks, rivers rising in Manitoba as snow melts but no flood warnings yet

WINNIPEG - Creeks and rivers in Manitoba are starting to rise as the province's snowpack begins to melt. But provincial officials say there are no flood warnings or watches yet. In its first flood bulletin of the year, the province says water is starting to gather in rural fields since culverts and ditches are still frozen. Many parts of the province are still under snow but officials say run-off is expected to increase next week. The province says it's clearing ice in key diversions and putting flood-fighting equipment in place in anticipation of the melt.

El Nino more than 50 percent likely by summer: U.S. weather forecaster

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The chances have increased over the past month that the much-feared El Nino phenomenon, which has the potential to wreak havoc on global crops, would strike by summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the federal U.S. weather forecaster said Thursday. In its monthly report, the Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the National Weather Service, pegged the likelihood at more than 50 percent.

Flood threat receding in parts of Saskatchewan: Water Security Agency

REGINA - The overall threat of flooding from spring runoff in Saskatchewan is receding. The Water Security Agency says in its April spring runoff forecast that water levels could still be well above normal in the Prince Albert area and above normal in pockets around Lloydminster and Rosetown. Earlier forecasts said a band stretching across the entire central part of the province faced a threat of above-normal water levels. "The challenge we are going to be facing is the local streams and water bodies," Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said Tuesday.

Alberta river forecasters have more alarms, are better prepared for flooding

EDMONTON - Alberta's river forecasters say more alarms and improved communication means they're better prepared to handle a massive flood like the one that devastated the southern part of the province last spring. An alarm system that tracks river levels now also monitors about 40 rain gauges in flood-prone areas. If there is intense rain, the alarm will ring the phones of river flow forecasters such as Colleen Walford with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development in Edmonton. She can give a warning to environment staff and municipalities.

Australia puts chance of 2014 El Nino at more than 70 pct

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The chance of an El Nino weather event developing in 2014 now exceeds 70 percent, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday, raising the prospect of damaging floods and droughts across the globe. "It is now likely (estimated at a greater than 70 percent chance) that an El Niño will develop during the southern hemisphere winter", from May-July, the bureau said.
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