Flash flooding and safety tips

Science & Technology

People wade through a road flooded by heavy rain in Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture, western Japan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. Torrential rain continued to trigger floods Saturday in wide areas of southwestern Japan, damaging homes and disrupting transportation. (Kyodo News via AP)

With excessive rain expected within the next several days, a flash flood advisory has been issued for Oneida and Otsego County effective from 5pm on August 17th, 2021 until August 19th, 2021. Though rain isn’t the only factor that contributes to a flash flood.

When determining the risk for flash flooding, Meteorologists often look at how saturated the ground is, meaning how much water the ground is holding compared to how much it can hold. If it rains a lot but the ground is pretty dry, it can absorb most of that water and the risk for flash flooding is low. If the ground is already holding a lot of water however, it won’t be able to take on anymore and the flash flood risk is high. The type of ground also affects how much water it can take. Areas with rocky or clay-like soil already don’t absorb water well and can quickly generate rapid flowing waters. Cities with mostly concrete ground are also at a higher risk since the water has nowhere else to go except into storm drains which can quickly become overwhelmed with heavy rainfall.

The location of where it’s raining is also very important. An area close to several streams and rivers is prone to flooding not only from rain that falls in that area but also from storms upstream. Rivers and streams can carry all that water downstream.

How can you prepare and increase your chance of survival in a flash flood event? Here’s what you can do before a flash flood strikes:

  • Create a communications plan with family members to meet at a safe location
  • Assemble an emergency kit with food, water, and medicine to last at least 3 days
  • Stay tuned to local weather alerts and notifications as forecasters can determine where flooding is anticipated several days before it will happen. 
  • Charge any essential devices beforehand

During a flood, it’s important to stay informed, get to higher ground, and DO NOT attempt to walk or drive through flood waters; Turn Around, Don’t Drown! It only takes 6 inches of rushing water to knock a person off their feet and 12 inches to carry away most cars or small SUVs. 

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