Did you know that flash floods are the leading cause of weather related deaths in the United States? Flash floods are some of the most destructive forces in nature. Fast flowing water quickly rips away anything in its path. To make matters worse, their unpredictable nature makes forecasting flash flooding quite difficult. This article details the risk factors for flash flooding so you can determine whether or not your property is at risk.
What Causes Flash Flooding?
Most often flash flooding is due to heavy rainfall. The intensity of the rainfall includes both duration and intensity. When rain falls quickly, the ground doesn’t have enough time to absorb it all. The water begins rushing downhill, creating a devastating torrent in its wake. Even just a few inches of flash flood water can be extremely dangerous. Flash flooding can also occur due to:
- A dam or levee break
- Ice jams
- Any sudden release of water
The most common causes of flash floods occur due to slow moving thunderstorms or tropical systems. These weather incidents cause heavy rainfall over a prolonged period.
Who Is At Risk For Flash Flooding?
Flash floods can happen all over the United States and the world. Anywhere it rains, there can be a flash flood. And don’t think that if you don’t live close to a body of water like a river, creek, or lake, that you are not at risk.
As little as six inches of flood water can easily carry a person away and two feet is powerful enough to move a car. Though flash floods happen everywhere, you are particularly at risk if your property is located near:
Rivers often flood due to rainfall. But spring is a particularly dangerous time. Snow melts and ice jams often couple with spring rains to cause major flooding. If your property is located near a river, stay vigilant during any rainfall.
Properties located near the ocean are at risk of coastal flash flooding during tropical events such as tropical storms and hurricanes. These weather systems push sea water onto land, inundating coastal areas in flood water.
Cities pose a particularly high risk from flash flooding due to development. Because of the concrete and road systems in an urban environment, rain water often has very few places to drain. During heavy rainfall, flood waters will often rush down streets or pool in parking lots.
If your property is located in a naturally hilly area, you are at an increased risk of flash flooding. Water picks up speed as it flows downhill. This quickly increases the risk of possible flooding damage.
Dry Creek Beds
Even desert areas are at risk of flash flooding. Rain miles away can quickly overflow dry creek beds and inundate your property. Remember, just because a creek bed isn’t currently flowing, it doesn’t mean it can’t turn into a raging river after heavy rainfall.
Low Ground Areas
Water often collects in the lowest areas. That puts areas such as valleys, locations near or below sea-level, and even basements and underground parking locations at particular risk.
How Can You Prepare For A Flash Flood?
One of the reasons flash floods are so dangerous is because they are hard to predict. Have a flash flooding plan made ahead of time. By preparing in advance, you won’t be caught off guard when the next flood occurs. Make sure to have an evacuation plan and steps you can take to protect your property.
Learn more about your property and your neighborhood. Ask questions. Does the nearby river often flood? Are there small streams or creeks on your property? Is there often standing water on the roads after a hard rain? These are all good questions to ask when assessing flooding risks.
Another step you can take to prepare for a flooding disaster is to create an emergency kit. These kits store your essentials so you are prepared if your property gets cut off from traffic, power, and water. An emergency kit usually includes:
- Drinking water
- Canned food goods
- Battery-powered radio
- First Aid Kit
Understand Your Real Flooding Risk
Fortunately, even though flash flooding is difficult to predict, there are ways to better understand your property and the flooding risks of your specific location. A Flood and Climate Risk Assessment combines the latest in mapping technology to determine your specific property’s flooding risk. These reports include:
- High resolution maps
- Coastal flooding risk
- Heavy rainfall risk
- Consultation with building experts
- Flood solutions from professionals with years of experience
These tools help you better understand your flash flooding risks and help you to take the steps necessary to protect your property.
Don’t underestimate the destructive power of flash floods. Remember, they can happen in a variety of locations, and there is often little to no warning. Understanding your risk factors is your first line of defense. Use this article to better understand your property’s flash flooding risk, and consult professionals so that you can have the protection you need.