Ask Josh: Flood Warning!

Do you know the difference between a flash flood and just a regular flood?

May is known for rainy, stormy days and this May is no exception!  In the first week of this month, some areas have received more than 2 to 4 inches of rainfall.  No wonder we've had to deal with high water issues.

Since it's been so wet and more rain is on the way, I wanted to go over the differences in the flood watches that get issued and what they mean.

Flood Watch: Means heavy rain is expected and could cause flooding.  If you live near a creek, stream or river, monitor water levels frequently.

Flash Flood Watch: This is issued when heavy rain may develop and result in flash flooding in or near the watch area. A Flash Flood Watch will also be issued if ground, river/stream conditions, or radar surveillance indicate flash flooding is possible, but not imminent within a designated area.

Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or is imminent.

Flash Flood Warning: A flood warning issued for life/property threatening flooding that will occur within 6 hours. It could be issued for rural or urban areas as well as for areas along the major rivers.

Flash Flood Statement: Flash Flood Statements are used to continue Flash Flood Watches, to follow-up watches and warnings with additional or current information, and to keep you informed of the flooding status.

Urban/Small Stream Flood Advisory: Issued when heavy rain will cause flooding of streets and low-lying places in urban areas. Also used if small rural or urban streams are expected to reach or exceed bankfull.

Devastating floods occur throughout the U.S. every year. Ninety percent of all presidentially declared natural disasters involve flooding.

Flooding is usually divided into two categories: flash flooding and river flooding.  Both can cause death, injury and property destruction.

Flash floods are usually caused by slow-moving thunderstorms or thunderstorms that move over the same area one after the other. Flash floods usually occur within six hours of heavy rainfall and are usually more life threatening, according to the National Weather Service.

The majority of deaths from flooding occur when people become trapped in automobiles that stall while driving through flooded areas. Nearly half of all flood fatalities are vehicle-related.

How Floods are Formed

Several factors contribute to flooding. The two key elements are rainfall intensity and duration. Intensity is the rate of rainfall, and duration is how long the rain lasts. Topography, soil conditions, and ground cover also play an important role.

Please folks, never drive through high water!  It may look safe to drive through but you never know if the water has washed out the road underneath.  It doesn't take much fast moving water to sweep your car away or stall it.  If you come upon a flooded roadway, remember this phrase "Turn Around, Don't Drown!".

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