Severe Weather Awareness Week 2010 – Flooding

This is post #5 in a series published for Severe Weather Awareness Week 2010. Today’s post focuses on the dangers of flooding and flash flooding.

…Flood and Flash Flood Awareness day…

Severe weather awareness week continues today with a look at flood and flash flood safety. Flooding and flash flooding are… perhaps surprisingly to some… the #1 weather-related cause of death in the United States.

Floods and flash floods occur every year in the Mid-South. River flooding occurs seasonally when winter or spring rains or torrential rains associated with tropical storms fill river basins with too much water too quickly. Flash floods occur suddenly… usually occurring within hours of excessive localized rainfall. These flash floods can become raging torrents which rip through river beds… urban streets… or valleys… sweeping everything before them.

When a Flash Flood Warning is issued for your County… or the moment you first realize that a flash flood is imminent… act quickly to save yourself. You may only have seconds.

A Flood Watch means it is possible that heavy rains will cause flooding in the specified area. Stay alert to the weather and think about what you would do if water begins to rise or if you receive a warning. Watch for development.

Here are some flash flood safety rules:

Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips… low spots… valleys… stream banks… and flood plains.

Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot where water is above your ankles. Do not allow children to play in or near ditches… gulleys… or culverts following a heavy rain event. Though children are adventurous and may find the fast-flowing water intriguing… lives can be lost if they lose their footing or attempt to cross the flowing water.

If driving… know the depth of water in a dip before crossing. The road bed may not be intact under the water. Don’t drive into a pool of water or where water is flowing. Water up to the bumper will likely stall a car and can pick it up and move it.

If the vehicle stalls… abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and its occupants and sweep them away. Turn Around – Don’t Drown.

Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers. Heavy rain events frequently occur at night!

Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams or drainage areas particularly during threatening conditions. provides the latest severe weather information, including flood and flash flood warnings, for the Memphis metropolitan area. This includes all watches and warnings, an interactive severe weather map of the Mid-South, and free delivery of severe weather alerts for the metro area via e-mail and Twitter. Find these services under the “Severe” menu on

Most of this post’s content courtesy of the National Weather Service.

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