Welcome to Day 2 of Severe Weather Awareness Week and part 2 of the five-part series. Yesterday’s weather blog discussed severe thunderstorms and you can read it here. Today’s weather blog will look at flooding and flash flooding. Flooding can be very dangerous if safety and common sense are not exercised. Flooding can cause loss of property or even loss of life.
First, the difference between a flood and a flash flood. A flood is pretty easy to define. A flood is the rising of water in some body of water over a period of time. Usually this occurs after a rain event, but it can also occur with rapid snow melt. For example, if on a Tuesday there are 6 inches of snow on the ground and the high temperature that day is 65 degrees, the snow will melt rapidly leading to the risk of flooding because all that melted snow needs somewhere to go. A flash flood is a rapid rise in water over a short period of time. With a flash flood, there is often much less time to prepare as flooding can develop in minutes or a couple hours.
Just like a severe thunderstorm watch and warning, we can also have a flood watch or warning as well as a flash flood watch or a flash flood warning.
Just like the severe thunderstorm watch, a flood watch or flash flood watch means that conditions are favorable for flooding to occur, but there is no guarantee flooding will occur. At this point, it’s important to be prepared in case a flood does occur. A flood warning is issued when flooding or flash flooding is imminent or even occurring. At this time, necessary action needs to be taken, and if necessary a plan of evacuation needs to be in place and potentially executed.
A flood watch or warning can be issued county wide, but often times in the Tennessee Valley these are issued for specific low-lying areas close to large bodies of water that are especially prone to flooding.
It only takes a little water to make a big difference. I know the old saying “Turn Around Don’t Drown” is probably overused, but it comes with so much truth.
It only takes 6 inches of moving water for a person to be swept away. Thinking about it…that means the water may hardly come past the ankle, but when it’s moving it can sweep you off your feet, and not in the romantic sense. 12 inches of water can take small cars and 18 inches of water can sweep large cars away.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that if you have a big car then you’ll be fine unless there’s 18 inches of water, and you’ll be fine eyeballing it. Well, that’s not the case. Water can be much deeper than it appears. You can’t judge how fast or strong the current is. And you can’t tell what debris might be lurking under the water. This is why “Turn Around Don’t Drown is so important. It’s better to play it safe rather than sorry.
There are several things you can do, a couple of which you can do well before a flood besides making sure you have emergency supplies ready. First, check and see if you actually live in a floodplain. Second, make sure you have insurance for flooding and find out what that insurance covers. There is a difference between rising waters that cause flood damage and falling water that causes flood damage. Sometimes insurance will not cover flooding that resulted from say a tree falling and putting a hole in your roof, allowing water to get in. They will however cover flooding because of rising water. It is very important to speak with your specific insurance agent on this matter.