Wednesday's Severe Weather Awareness Topic: Flooding

Governor Sebelius has designated this week as "Severe Weather Awareness Week" in Kansas. The National Weather Service in coordination with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Kansas Emergency Management Association, Kansas Highway Patrol, and other local and state volunteer organizations, is promoting severe weather education and preparedness.

Flooding kills more people in the United States each year than other types of severe weather. In recent years, only heat related deaths surpassed flood fatalities. Rapidly rising water can easily flood wide areas even when it has been very dry. Water can be deceptively powerful and relentless, resulting in property and crop damage and even death.

Most flood related deaths occur at night and when people are in their vehicles. Two feet of water is enough to cause most vehicles to float. Six inches of fast moving water can knock you off your feet. When water covers roads, it is difficult to know how deep the water is and if the road bed is intact underneath the water. "Turn around, don't drown!" is the National Weather Service slogan that reminds you not to drive into flood waters.

What is a flash flood? Flash flooding occurs within six hours of a rain event, or after a dam or levee failure, or following a sudden release of water held by an ice or debris jam. Flash flooding can occur along a creek, stream or in a low lying urban area. In addition, soils can become saturated when rainfall has been persistent for several days and additional rainfall results in significant runoff.

A river flood occurs when there is prolonged rainfall over several days, intense rainfall over a short period of time, or an ice or debris jam causes a river or stream to overflow and flood the surrounding area. Melting snow can combine with rain in the winter and early spring, and severe thunderstorms bringing heavy rain in the spring, summer and fall can all be causes of river flooding. River flooding is longer in duration and may impact a much wider geographic area.

Flood safety rules to follow:
Never walk or drive into flood waters. Flood waters may be deeper and swifter than they appear. You may be knocked off your feet or your vehicle may be swept away. Avoid low water crossings or roads that dip down to the level of the creek or stream bed.

If your vehicle becomes stranded in the water, exit your vehicle immediately. Your vehicle may be swept downstream or overturned and submerged.

Be aware of flood threats if you camp, hike, fish or boat along rivers or streams. Even small creeks and streams can turn into raging rivers when thunderstorms have produced heavy rainfall upstream.

Listen for flood or flash flood watches or warnings from the National Weather Service.

Please contact Jennifer Stark at 785-232-1493 or at jennifer.stark@noaa.gov for more information.


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