(KNWA/KFTA)- With the flash flood and river flooding threat on the rise over the next 24hrs, I thought it might be a good time to review some information and safety tips on flooding. This week happens to also be our Arkansas flood safety awareness week as well. I hope the following tips and information keep you and your family safe during a flood event.
Flood safety awareness week covers a lot of topics, but we will only be sticking to the first three: Flood Safety, Turn Around Don’t Drown, and Flood Hazards.
Flood safety can really be broken down into two main categories, awareness of the topic and most importantly the preparedness portion. We will be focusing mainly on the preparedness aspect of flooding in this blog.
Flooding is the leading weather related killer with about 1/2 of those deaths occurring in vehicles. I hope to explain a little later on why exactly I believe flooding is so dangerous.
One of the most important things you can do to be prepared is to stay informed on the latest information. You can expect your NWA Weather Authority team to start informing you of a flooding event well before the event starts. We look at the latest data and if it looks possible that flooding may occur in your area we will let you know. We want to get you prepared for the event days in advance if possible.
Just like severe weather, have multiple ways to receive information when flooding is possible or imminent. There are several great options listed above!
You will often hear during flooding events that you should retreat to higher ground if possible, but how exactly do you know if you live in a flood prone area? Do you live on a flood plain? There are some really great tools out there to show where the flood plains are and if your address is located on a flood plain. This FEMA website allows you to type your address in and see what flood zone your neighborhood is in and what the risk is. Make sure to check it out!
In the rare case that the flooding event becomes so great that your home or neighborhood is compromised by rising waters, and you are told to evacuate. What are some things you should do? You should leave as soon as you are able. Don’t wait to see if the flood waters are going to reach your door or not. If you wait, it may be too late! Lock your doors and windows, and makes sure to disconnect any utilities or appliances.
One thing we often forget about during flooding events is the fact that electricity is flowing through our homes. Electricity and water are a very dangerous mix. Water is a GOOD conductor of electricity. This means that water makes it a whole lot easier to get zapped by an electric current. Some good electrical safety tips are listed in the graphic above.
Remember water is a very POWERFUL force and is often underestimated. Only 6 inches of moving water can sweep an adult off of their feet. It only takes 12-18 inches to sweep away most vehicles in flood waters. Make sure to give water the respect it is due!
Turn Around Don’t Drown!
Turn around don’t drown is a trademarked phrase that the National Weather Service created to protect and inform the public on the the very real danger of flood waters. YOUR LIFE IS NOT WORTH THE RISK TO DRIVE THROUGH FLOODED ROADWAYS!
Here are three of the most common types of flood warnings that can be issued in situations where flooding is imminent or occurring. The differences can be confusing so this graphic should help explain the differences between them. Timing and impact are really the two main factors that separate the different types of warnings.
The two hazards that we deal with most in Northwest Arkansas are river flooding and flash flooding. Out of the other hazards listed above, I would say tropical systems would be in third place. We can get tremendous amount of rain from these tropical systems if the track is right.
River flooding was something that the River Valley was affected by during the summer of 2019. Flash flooding is possible over the next 24-48 hours which is why it makes the number one spot of flooding hazards. Flash flooding can occur quite often here in NW Arkansas especially with as wet of year as we’ve had already. You can see that these are hazards that are not to be messed around with and to pay attention too when they are mentioned on the news or wherever you receive your weather information.
A good source is our NWA Weather Authority App which is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
To finish up this blog I wanted to highlight what some of the reasons are that flooding is so deadly. People just straight up ignore how powerful the force of moving water is! Water especially when it is moving is not a force to mess around with. People who typically mess around with flood waters end up dead!
The next two focus on why you should NEVER drive through flooded roadways! You have no idea how deep that moving water is or if the road surface is even still there! In many cases flood waters can completely erode the roads surface away leaving a torrent of dangerous fast moving water where the road once was! You think you are driving onto the road but in reality you are driving into a river of water! Add limited visibility at night and you can see why flood waters can be so dangerous!
So what are some takeaways from this week focused on flood safety? You should get prepared now and have a plan to enact when flooding is possible for your area. You should also give water the proper amount of respect and remind yourself this is a force that is NOT to be messed with. Most importantly stay up to date with the latest weather information during the event and keep you and your family safe!