Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding
than from any other severe weather related hazard. In Wyoming, we are at risk of flash
flooding from heavy rain and thunderstorms in the spring and summer. A flash flood is
a sudden and sometimes violent flood that can take from minutes to a few hours to develop.
Waters can rise very rapidly in rivers, streams & draws, and along streets and other low lying
areas during a flash flood. Mudslides & debris flows can occur in the higher terrain, especially
near burn scars. It’s important for you to prepare ahead
of time and to know what to do when a flash flood threatens you, your family, and your
livelihoods. The National Weather Service is responsible
for issuing flash flood alerts for Wyoming when very heavy rain and high waters are expected.
A Flash Flood Watch is issued when conditions are FAVORABLE for flash flooding. It does
not mean flooding WILL occur, but it IS possible and is important for you to be on the alert
for future warnings. Also, make sure you prepare your home, family, and pets in case you need
to act quick. Take time to pack an emergency kit. You may already have many of these items in your home. Practice your disaster plan with your family so everyone knows what to do if a flash flood warning is issued. A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood
is imminent or occurring. If a flash flood warning is issued for your area, first, carefully
listen to or read the entire warning message. Critical information about location and timing
of rainfall and flooding will be found in these warnings.
If you receive a flash flood warning when out driving, head to higher ground and avoid
rivers, creeks, and low water crossings. NEVER drive through flooded roadways! Water may
be deeper than it appears and can hide many hazards such as tree limbs, washed out road
surfaces, or electrical wires. It takes only 1-2 feet of rushing water to carry away most
vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs. Road closure and other cautionary signs are
put in place for your safety. Pay attention to them! TURN AROUND DON’T DROWN! If you’re out in a public facility such as the mall or a restaurant and it’s raining
heavily or flash flooding is visible, stay put! Listen to directions from the authorities, and for the all clear. Waters can rise quickly in urban areas, especially on streets and
culverts, so you do not want to put yourself in harms way by leaving a safe place. If you’re
caught outdoors, do not seek shelter under a culvert as these are designed to carry fast
moving water and could sweep you away quickly. If you are up in the mountains, and experience
heavy rainfall, this is mother nature’s warning telling you to move to higher ground.
If at a campground, listen to directions from the campground host, or forest service official.
If you’re unsure of how to prepare for flash flooding, or where to get critical warning
information, please check out the safety tips at www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/. Be weather ready!
Be a force of nature!