Flood Safety Awareness Week is March 18-22
While hurricanes are known and feared for their ferocious winds, historically it is the water that causes most of the deaths in hurricanes. About 90% of all hurricane fatalities occur from drowning in either storm surge or freshwater flooding. The widespread flooding caused by Tropical Storm Fay in 2008 serves as a reminder that tropical storms can cause as much or greater devastation than hurricanes with freshwater flooding.
Even outside of tropical systems, flooding is a serious concern in Florida since it can happen anywhere and at any time. Effects from flooding can be localized, impacting just a few streets in a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting multiple cities, counties and even whole states. Flooding is caused by the amount of rainfall (meteorology) and what happens to the rain after it hits the ground (hydrology).
As our state’s population increases, buildings and pavement replace the natural land. This creates more water runoff and can increase flood problems. Most deaths due to flooding in the United States are due to people driving their cars into flooded areas. Once a vehicle begins to float, the situation for the driver and passengers becomes dangerous and often deadly.
DID YOU KNOW??? Just 6 inches of fast-moving floodwater can knock you off your feet and 2 feet of water can sweep an SUV off a road.
Residents should be aware of their location with respect to flood-prone areas and know evacuation routes. People are also urged to be extremely cautious when driving in heavy rains, especially when water covers the road. Because it is difficult to determine the depth of water or the condition of the road under the water, if you come to a flooded road, remember the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.
Meteorologists at the Southeast River Forecast Center and local National Weather Service offices all watch the weather and use satellite pictures, Doppler radar and computer models to try to warn people well in advance of the flooding, so they can save lives and property. Flood Watches and Warnings, along with Flash Flood Watches and warning are issued for a specific area when flooding conditions are likely or are already occurring.
For more information about flooding and what you can do to protect yourself and others can be found at www.weather.gov/floodsafety or www.FloridaDisaster.org.