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Earlier today, we discussed an important flash flood safety program: Turn around
don't drown. As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather
Service wants you to be aware of the dangers of the number one storm killer:
A flash flood is a rapid rise of water along a stream or in a low-lying urban
area. Flash flooding can result from slow-moving thunderstorms, from numerous
thunderstorms which develop repeatedly over the same area, and from heavy rains
associated with tropical cyclones. These floods may develop within minutes,
depending on the intensity of rainfall, the topography, soil conditions, and
Few people realize the true power of water. Rapidly-moving flood waters only
six inches deep can knock an adult off their feet. Two feet of water can lift
approximately 3000 pounds, which is the weight of an average-sized vehicle.
Vehicles crossing a flooded roadway can lose traction with the road, actually
floating in some cases. In some cases, water can erode the earth underneath a
road, causing it to wash out. If a vehicle becomes overturned, it can fill with
water, endangering the lives of its occupants. Flash flood statistics indicate
that half of the annual flood fatalities are vehicle-related.
Flash floods can roll boulders, tear down trees, destroy buildings and scour out
new channels. Underpasses can fill rapidly with water. In urban areas, storm
drains may become overwhelmed, allowing roads and buildings to flood. Low spots
such as underground parking garages and basements can quickly flood. In rural
areas, people who enjoy hunting, camping and fishing need to stay away from
streams if strong thunderstorms have occurred. Water can rise over ten feet in
less than an hour with a heavy rainfall.
So how can we stay safe from the dangers associated with flash flooding?
Monitor weather radio and pay close attention to flash flood warnings issued by
the National Weather Service. Be especially cautious at night when it is more
difficult to recognize the dangers of flash flooding. Avoid low lying areas that
are prone to flooding. Don't camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes.
If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and
move to higher ground. Lastly, never attempt to cross areas where water covers
the road. Remember the first safety rule of flash flooding...Turn around don't
Tomorrow, Severe Weather Awareness Week continues as we discuss the importance
of amateur radio and storm spotters, and how to report severe weather to the
National Weather Service.