We continue Severe Weather Awareness Week with a look at flash flooding. Flash Flooding refers to a sudden rise in water along a creek, river, stream, or normally dry area of land. It can happen because of heavy rain or with sudden breaks in river ice jams, dams, or levees.
Recent wildfires can increase the risk for flash floods. Burned areas cannot absorb as much moisture has areas with healthy vegetation. They can only handle very small amounts of water before flooding becomes a possibility. Residents in and near burned areas need to be especially aware of and prepared for potential flash flooding.
Flash floods can happen over the course of a few minutes or hours depending on conditions and sometimes striking without warning. These floods tend to be destructive because the water can move very quickly and have debris (like trees, branches, and boulders) in it that can destroy roads, bridges, and buildings.
Some of the alerts you may hear about flooding include:
– (Flash) Flood Watch: Flooding is possible within the watch area during the watch time frame.
– Flood Warnings: Flooding is happening or will happen very soon along a river.
– Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is happening or will happen very soon.
– Urban Flood Advisory: Minor flooding that is not life threatening is happening in an urban area.
– Small Stream Flood Advisory: The river is full and will cause minor flooding along the stream.
If flooding is occurring, you should go to higher ground immediately and avoid flood waters. You should never try to drive through a flood. Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are related to vehicles. Just one or two feet of moving water can carry away many cars. Plus, you can’t always tell if the road is damaged beneath moving water. Turn around and find another way to go.