Severe Weather Awareness Week: Flash Floods
POSTED: Friday, March 8, 2013 - 7:33am
UPDATED: Friday, March 8, 2013 - 7:54am
STORMTRACKER33 — This week is National Severe Weather Awareness week for Louisiana. Each day a new topic will be featured to help get you prepared for the upcoming Spring severe weather season. Yesterday we took a closer look at Lightning Safety, now we will take a more detailed look at Flash Floods.
In addition to tornadoes, lightning, large hail, and damaging winds, thunderstorms also threaten to produce flash flooding. A flash flood is a flood that develops quickly along a stream, creek, or bayou due to heavy rain or water releases from dams upstream. Flash floods can occur any time of the day., but are most dangerous at night. Flooding causes more deaths each year than any other weather event, accounting for about 140 deaths each year nationwide.
Flash floods are very deceptive. Often flash flooding can occur at night when warnings may go unnoticed, and when darkness makes it hard to find an escape route. Even worse, the water is almost always deeper and moves more swiftly than it appears. It can hide damage to the road beneath as well as debris on the road. The safety rule is simple, stay out of and away from deep water. Motorists must not try to cross flooded low areas. Even if a previous vehicle made it through the flooding the water can rise so rapidly that you may not make it. Using alternate routes to avoid flooding is the only way to be safe.
If your vehicle stalls in flood waters, leave it immediately and move to higher ground. Most cars and light trucks will begin to float in as little as two feet of water. If the water reaches the doors, electric windows and door systems may be shorted out. Even If they are not, occupants must push against the current to open doors. This is extremely difficult if not impossible.
Everyone, especially children, should stay away from flooded streams, bayous, or drainage ditches. The swift current can quickly sweep away children even if they are strong swimmers. Soggy banks along these swiftly moving waters become unstable after heavy rain and can easily give way dumping the victim into the flood waters.
The best way to stay informed when flash flooding threatens is to monitor NOAA Weather Radio, or commercial radio, local television, or cable television for reliable weather information.