Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flood Safety Awareness Week 2010

This week (March 15-19) has been designated by NOAA as Flood Safety Awareness Week.

Flooding/flash flooding is the #1 cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States each year, more than tornadoes, lightning, and hurricanes (NOAA/NWS).
According to the graphic released by NOAA (above) this week, much of the Mid-South is in an "above average" risk of flooding this spring thanks to saturated soil conditions, dominant weather patterns, and likely also the record flooding expected upstream in the Red River Valley, which feed downstream into the Mississippi River.

Flash flooding occurs quickly, typically due to torrential downpours, dam breaks, etc. and can occur with little warning. (Non-flash) flooding usually takes place over a longer period of time, such as with prolonged rain or spring snowmelt. The expected near-record flooding around the Red River in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota this spring is an example of snowmelt and spring rains combining to send the river over its banks and into neighboring towns, cities, and rural land.

The National Weather Service issues watches and warnings for both types of flooding. Typically in the Mid-South, Flash Flood Watches and Warnings and Urban/Small Stream Flood Advisories are a result of copious rain from thunderstorms over a short period of time, usually in the spring and summer months. Occasionally, Flood Watches and Warnings are issued for the Mississippi River (usually in the spring) when melting snow and spring rain up north cause the river to overflow its banks in the Mid-South.

The NWS slogan used to educate people on the dangers of flooding is "Turn Around Don't Drown." The TADD campaign reminds people that 18-24" of flowing water is enough to sweep a car off the road into unknown hazards like swollen creeks.

During Flood Safety Awareness Week, reminds you to exercise caution when water covers the road or when recent rain has caused drainage ditches, creeks, and streams to become rushing torrents of water. Most of the time, deaths due to flooding are entirely preventable. Don't become a statistic.

You can receive Flash Flood Watches and Warnings by e-mail by signing up for MWN's WXLIVE!-Severe Weather warning notification system or by following @shelbyalerts on Twitter. Certainly NOAA Weather Radio and commercial media outlets also provide this valuable and life-saving information.

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