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Some Flooding And Severe Weather Statistics
2012 has been a busy year when it comes to severe weather events. We’ve seen hurricanes strike Florida and the Gulf Coast and major flooding across much of the Midwest. And the good news is that we’re only a little over 2/3 of the way through the year, which means plenty of time for additional bad news when it comes to dealing with flooding and flood damage.
Flooding is the single most common natural disaster in the United States, if not the world. Flooding occurs in all 50 states, throughout the year, and for a variety of reasons. Except for those fortunate enough to live on mountaintops, no one is immune from flooding, and even the mountaintop people should think twice if they reread the Old Testament and the story of a fellow named Noah.
Floods come in various forms. Nearly all of us have witnessed an overflowing creek or river that has crested its banks. Fewer of us have witnessed a flood or flash flood on a major scale. Some floods, we’ll call them “regular floods”, may take days to develop as rains saturate a given area and creeks or rivers or lakes slowly begin to rise. If there is any good news here at all, it’s that many times floods can be anticipated at least with enough advance warning to allow people to get out of the area.
Flash floods are another story, since they form much faster. Flash floods can sweep across the landscape at high speed, wiping away cars, animals, buildings, and even people. There is often little or no warning to people in the path of a flash flood, which means almost no time to get to safety. Flash flooding is the leading cause of weather related deaths every year, with some 200 annual fatalities. Of those, over 50% are vehicle related, people who became trapped in their vehicles, unable to escape the rising water and swept away to their death.
Flash floods are most typically formed when a large amount of rain is dumped on a given area within a short amount of time. The ground can only absorb so much water and once it is saturated, the excess water has nowhere to go. As it rises, it will follow the path of least resistance, and anything or anyone in its path is at risk.
Texas leads the nation when it comes to flood related deaths, with a count almost twice that of California, which is the second highest state. Texas has been ranked #1 in flood related deaths for 21 out of the last 36 years, and there are almost a half million flood insurance policies active in the Lone Star state.
During severe weather events, it is important to keep abreast of different warnings and watches. Flash flood warnings are especially important, because in most cases, they are issued with only minutes to spare, minutes that could make the difference in life or death. Be aware of these changing weather conditions and be prepared to move to higher ground immediately.