What Causes Flash Flooding: The Causes of Flash Flooding and 5 Flash Flood Safety Tips
One of the leading causes of water damage to homes and businesses is flash flooding. Flash floods can form in a matter of minutes and can cover great distances in a short time. In fact, flash flooding leads across the nation when it comes to severe weather-related deaths. Although Florida and Louisiana are most prone to flooding, a flash flood can occur anywhere and often happen with little or no warning. In most cases, you will only have a few minutes to take action if a flash flood warning is issued for your area. For that reason, it’s important to know what causes flash flooding and what to do if a flood alert is issued in your area.
What Causes Flash Flooding
Most flash floods occur when the soil is unable to absorb the water in the area. While wet and saturated soil is often to blame for flash floods, extremely dry soil can produce them as well. As a result, the water remains on top of the ground. This creates powerful, fast-moving channels of water.
Common Causes of Flash Flooding
- Heavy rain in a short period of time, such as a torrential downpour
- Rain over an extended period of time, such as a hurricane or tropical storm
- Rapid thaws that cause significant snowmelt
- A failure of a dam, levee, or another water barrier
- A sudden release of water held by an ice jam.
- Overwhelmed man-made drainage or sewage systems
Areas At Greatest Risk for Flash Floods
While any area can flood, low-lying areas are most prone to flash floods. This includes valleys and canyons, as well as the lowlands around hills and mountains. Floods are also common in these areas:
- Near naturally occurring water sources, like rivers and lakes
- Downstream from a dam, levee, or another water barrier
- Near dry water beds, like creaks, streams, rivers, and gullies
The Difference Between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning
- Flood Watch: A flood watch means the conditions are right and a flood could develop at any time.
- Flood Warning: A flood warning means there is a flood or one is imminent within the next 30 to 60 minutes.
5 Tips for Remaining Safe During Flash Floods
1. Follow Instructions from Local Authorities
Always follow instructions from local authorities, especially if a mandatory evacuation order is given. If you evacuate, turn off the water supply and electricity in your home before you leave. This will help limit damage in the event that your property floods. Go to a designated evacuation shelter or seek high ground away from sources of water like rivers and lakes. Do return to your home until flood waters have receded and local authorities issue an all-clear.
2. Stay Safe If Your Remain In Your Home
If a mandatory evacuation is not issued and you choose to remain in your property, close all windows and doors and seek shelter in the highest possible area. Stay tuned to weather reports and emergency signals and wait for the all-clear before leaving your sanctuary.
3. Stay Clear of Water Sources
Any source of water can easily overflow and causing a flash flood scenario or making one worse. If you have a stream or creek running through your property, keep a close eye on it and be prepared to get out of its way if the levels begin to rise sharply. The same goes for man-made water sources like storm drains and drainage ditches.
4. Avoid Driving Through Flooded Areas
The majority of flood-related deaths are due to people getting trapped in their vehicles, so you should never attempt to drive through a flooded area. If you do become trapped in your car during a flood, remain calm and try to wait it out. If the water rises above the bottom of your car, you should evacuate the vehicle. Instead of using the door, escape through a window. While you can sit on top of the vehicle, as little as 2 feet of water can move a car. A better option is to seek higher ground, like a hill, large rock, or a tree. Make sure you take your phone with you, should you need to call for assistance.
5. Avoid Walking in Flood Waters
Likewise, you should never attempt to walk through flood waters. Flood waters are extremely powerful and it only takes six inches of moving water to knock a grown adult off their feet. Under no circumstances should you attempt to outrun a flood. Instead, seek higher ground immediately. Also, be especially cautious at night, as water threats are more difficult to discern in the darkness.
Flash Flood Damage Restoration Services
As the nation’s largest network of restoration companies, Restoration Local makes it easy to find a local water damage restoration company near you. For immediate service, call 1-888-443-3110 to talk to our on-call water cleanup company in your area. Our on-call emergency response companies offer 24-hour services, 30-minute response time, and a free estimate for all flash flood damage and water extraction services.