Flash Flooding Safety Tips


Flooding and flash flooding occur every year in the Mid-South.  River flooding occurs seasonally when winter and spring rains combine with melting snow upstream to cause rivers and their tributaries to overflow their banks.  River flooding (such as we experienced in spring 2011) can occur over a period of weeks to months.  Flash floods on the other hand can occur suddenly and are typically attributed to excessive localized rainfall. The flooding occurs within a few hours of the heavy rain.

A Flash Flood Watch means that heavy rains could cause flooding in the specified area. Stay alert to the weather and have a plan in place should water begin to rise or a warning gets issued, particularly if you are in an area that has flooded before.

A Flash Flood Warning means that flash flooding is occurring or expected imminently.  If a warning is issued or water begins rising in your area, act quickly to exercise your plan and get to higher ground.


Here are some flash flood safety rules:

  • Leave areas subject to flooding, including low spots, valleys, stream banks, and flood plains.
  • Avoid areas that are flooded or have quickly-moving water. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream where water is above ankle-deep.
  • When driving, know the depth of water in a low spot before crossing. The road bed may not be intact under the water. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”  One foot of moving water is enough to lift and carry a car downstream.
  • If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Water may rise rapidly and engulf your vehicle and it’s occupants.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams or drainage areas, especially when thunderstorms are possible.

For weather information for Memphis and the Mid-South, where and when you need it, visit MemphisWeather.net on the web, m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone, download our iPhone or Android apps, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

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