Amphibex machines are now out on the Red River working to break up ice and help lower the chances of spring flooding.

They are breaking through the ice at Breezy Point and will work five kilometres north to Netley Lake.

This year, the ice is about 24 to 30 inches (60 - 76 cm), which is thicker than in the previous four years.

"This will be a tough year. The ice is thicker, but more importantly it's really hard," said Don Forfar, reeve of the RM of St. Andrews.

Three amphibex machines are working around the clock north of Selkirk.

The province says the machines have enhanced structural strength to deal with thicker conditions.

"We want to weaken this ice and it takes more effort from the equipment to address thicker ice but the equipment is capable of handling 30-inch ice," said Steve Topping from Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation.

The premier says the province will release a flood forecast Feb. 27.

"There have been reports of increased snow pack in Saskatchewan, at the same time soil conditions were very dry last fall which gave greater absorption," said Premier Greg Selinger.

Officials in Grand Forks, North Dakota are expected to release information on their early flood outlook south of the border on Feb. 21.