Continuing our Severe Weather Awareness Week for the State of Louisiana, today’s topic
is Flash Flood Safety. The National Weather Service wants you to be aware of the dangers
of the number one storm killer, flash flooding. 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 ground cover.
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.
When flash floods occur in rural areas, people who enjoy hunting, camping and fishing need
to stay away from streams if strong thunderstorms have occurred. Water in streams can rise over
ten feet in less than an hour with the heavy rainfall.
So how long can we stay safe form 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 cautions 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 attempts to cross areas where
water covers the road. Remember the first safety rule of flash flooding, turn around,
don’t drown. Our next Severe Weather Awareness Week topic
will be on Tornadoes and Tornado Safety on Wednesday, February 20th.