The Definition of a Flash Flood Warning

Sometimes on a humid day, a thunderstorm forms and dumps sheets of rain in no time. That can be heavy enough for the National Weather Service to prompt a flash flood warning due to rising rivers or severe puddles on the ground and roads.  Some people become confused with it, thinking a flash flood warning is similar to a flood warning. On the contrary, those two weather terms are not quite the same. A flood warning happens because of rainfall in a prolonged period (within a few days); a flash flood occurs because flooding from heavy rainfall is expected in at least one hour.  

A flash flood warning is a term used by the National Weather Service for periods of heavy rainfall that fall in a short time. That may be caused by a complex of thunderstorms that train over the same area, dumping heavy rain. Flooding either has occurred or will occur. The rain may contribute to rapid rising of rivers or creeks, as they creep toward a flood stage. A flash flood warning may also be given if a dam or levee breaks.

So how can you deal with flash flood warnings? You can certainly be prepared ahead of time, in case one is given for your area. One ideal way is to make a disaster plan. You can sketch a safe meeting place for your family.  Include emergency numbers, perhaps have your children learn to dial them.  Make a safety kit that includes water, blankets, unspoiled foods, fresh batteries, a flashlight, a radio, and a first aid kit.  You can contact your local National Weather Service for more information about preparing for flash floods.    

If a flash flood warning does come into effect, it is the time to take action and pay attention. You should already know there will be some big puddles on some roads, so do not attempt to drive in flooded waters. Law enforcement officials should place traffic barricades in front of roads that are flooded. If your home is subject to flood, leave at once! Use your emergency plan and escape to a higher ground.

Flash floods are serious killers. Lives have been lost because of flooded homes or people driving through deep, fast-moving waters. Remember to use good judgment by preparing in advance and avoiding flood waters.