Part 3 of 5 parts
FRANKLIN COUNTY — It’s Severe Weather Awareness Week in Pennsylvania and the National Weather Service wants to educate the public about different aspects of the term “severe” when it comes to weather.
The topic today is flash flooding.
More people are killed by flash floods than by other storm-related weather hazards, according to NWS.
Unfortunately, most people succumb to flooding after they drive their automobiles into flooded roadways and are subsequently swept away to their deaths.
The rule is simple: If you encounter a flooded roadway, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” Finding an alternate route could save your life!
Many people lose their lives by not adhering to that one simple rule.
What Is a Flash Flood?
A flash flood is a rapid flood. During a flash flood, a stream or creek will rise rapidly and crest generally within a few hours of the start of the heavy rain.
Flash floods are so dangerous because the waters rise so quickly it can catch people off guard and trap them in precarious situations.
This is why the National Weather Service constantly monitors rainfall using rain gauges and radar estimates.
Stream and creek levels are monitored using automated river gauges and local spotters.
Your National Weather Service will issue Flash Flood Watches and Flash Flood Warnings to help alert you to expected flood dangers.
What Causes Flash Floods?
Flash floods happen when very heavy rainfall, usually from slow-moving thunderstorms, overwhelms the natural or man-made drainage systems.
Streams, creeks and smaller rivers are most vulnerable to flash flooding.
It happens in urban areas as well as in rural areas.
What Does a Flash Flood Watch Mean?
It means that the potential exists for flash flooding to occur on any stream, creek or small river.
The watch does not mean that flooding is imminent or occurring. It just means that it is a possibility.
What you should do:
- Be prepared to take quick action to protect yourself by moving to higher ground if you are near a waterway.
- Watch water levels carefully and be ready to evacuate at any moment.
- If you are traveling during a Flash Flood Watch, be alert for signs of flash flooding, especially at night when it can be difficult to see a flooded roadway.
- Be very careful if driving through flood prone areas. If you encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and find an alternate route.
It could save your life!
What Does a Flash Flood Warning Mean?
It means rapid life-threatening flooding is occurring, or will begin very soon. A warning lets you know that heavy rain will cause the water to rise and overflow the banks of the waterways nearby.
It can also be prompted by levee and dam failures.
You need to take action immediately to protect your life and property if you are in the danger area.
Do This When a Flash Flood Warning Is Issued:
- Move up to higher ground immediately and get out of the danger area.
- Never drive across bridges covered with water, or through areas where water covers the roadway. Most cars will float in just 16 to 18 inches of water. If rising water captures your automobile, it could easily sweep you away.
- Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize that an area is flooded.
For additional information on flash floods and severe weather, Check out the National Weather Service website.
5 Part Series