Flood and Flash Flood Safety

Hi, I’m Gerald Satterwhite with the National
Weather Service, and I’m joined by Gary Crook from the Alabama Institute for the Deaf
and Blind. Have you ever considered flooding as a one
of the major threats posed by nature? While storms have many kinds of hazards, flooding
is the leading cause of fatalities. Why? Many people end up putting themselves in life-threatening
situations by driving into flooded roadways, failing to realize the power of water or underestimating
its depth. Flowing water carries a lot of force! Just 6 inches of flowing water can knock an
adult off their feet. 12 inches of flowing water can carry away
a small car, and 18 to 24 inches can move larger vehicles. You may also be unable to tell if the road
has been washed out, or if there are hidden obstructions. Consider how dangerous driving through a wildfire
would be. Are you willing to take the same risk with
flooding? Both are deadly. Don’t become a statistic: avoid flooded
roadways and never cross through barriers — ‘Turn Around, Don’t Drown.’ If at home, work, or school, move to a higher
floor and take your phone with you. If forced even higher by flood waters, do
not go into the attic. You could become trapped if you do not have
a way to break through the roof! Another option is to leave and seek higher
ground if you begin to see flood waters develop, or if a warning is issued. Keep in mind that flood dangers are harder
to recognize at night, and extend beyond water, including possible sewage contamination, wildlife,
debris, and electrocution. Similar to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes,
the National Weather Service issues forecasts to let you know when conditions could become
favorable for flooding. Always check for the latest updates! A ‘Flood Watch’ is issued when conditions
are expected to become favorable for flooding. Once flooding is likely to develop very soon,
a ‘warning’ is issued. Keep in mind that ‘Flood Warnings’ are
for long-duration flooding that may last several days, and typically develop at a gradual pace. ‘FLASH Flood Warnings’ mean that flooding
will rapidly develop, typically lasting several hours at most. If you are ever in a ‘flood’ or ‘flash
flood’ warning, quickly find higher ground. Be sure to know what kind of flooding can
affect your area. Due to different types of weather and terrain
across the country, flooding can show its face in many different forms. When intense or prolonged heavy rains fall,
rivers can swell for days; a large amount of rain in a short period of time can result
in ‘flash flooding,’ which is especially dangerous as it tends to catch people off
guard; flood waters can push dams and levees to their limits, with breeches flooding nearby
towns; when rain falls on wildfire burn scars, flash flooding develops more easily, and becomes
increasingly dangerous when coupled with mountainous terrain; during the spring, or any warm spell
during the winter, ice jams can block the flow of rivers, forcing water to spill into
nearby communities; and tropical systems and other coastal storms can affect large portions
of the coast, pushing water into cities and neighborhoods. Visit Ready.gov/be-informed for more tips
on staying safe, as well as making a before-during-and after plan. Thanks for joining us!

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