Only six inches of water is enough to sweep a person off their feet. A foot of moving water can carry away a vehicle.
Flooding is a threat across the United States year-round. In the first few weeks of July, the dangers of flash floods have plagued the Northeast, including Vermont’s worst flood in over 100 years that brought many of the state’s dams to capacity.
Flash floods can happen minutes to hours after a period of excessive rainfall or a sudden release of water from a dam failure or ice jam, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). In the desert, flash floods can roar through dry river beds miles away from where the heavy rain is falling. This makes them incredibly dangerous. These floods are sudden and fierce, with rapidly rising water that can cause severe damage and trigger mudslides.
Low-lying areas with streams, rivers and storm drains are most at risk of flash flooding, according to the NWS.
“It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters,” the NWS notes on its page to promote its famous Turn Around Don’t Drown® safety message.
As of July 13, 2023, there have been 34 fatalities related to floods in the United States, according to NWS data. Floods killed 102 people in the United States in 2022, but almost half – 48 deaths – were reported in July.
Most flash flooding is caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, multiple storms moving over the same area, or heavy rain from hurricanes or tropical storms.
Flash floods can vary in how fast they form. While forecasters can anticipate where some floods will happen weeks in advance, others can occur with very little notice. Here are some tips to prepare yourself for the possibility of floods.
Whether this takes the form of having a specific person to contact to update your status or a safe location to meet up with loved ones, having a plan in place will give you peace of mind.
Water service may be interrupted during a flash flooding event. It is good practice to have enough water, food and medicine to last at least three days in case of an emergency. Supplies like batteries, blankets, flashlights, a first aid kit and a battery-powered radio will also be helpful.
Research and understand the fastest way to get to higher ground and how flash floods might affect your area. If it’s likely your home will flood, don’t wait. Evacuate yourself and your family.
Produced in association with AccuWeather
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