(WVNS) — It’s ‘Severe Weather Awareness Week’ in West Virginia, Virginia, and the StormTracker 59 WeatherLab. The StormTracker 59 team will be bringing you what you need to know to stay safe before, during, and after severe weather strikes in your town.
The third day of Severe Weather Awareness Week covers flash flooding. This is one of the most impactful and common issues relating to severe weather that we face in the two Virginias, partially due to our extreme terrain. A flash flood is defined as “A rapid rise of water in a river, creek, stream or low lying area.” To be officially declared a ‘Flash Flood’ the event has to begin within six hours of the event that triggered it.
Flash Flooding can be caused by several different issues. The most common and well known is as a result of heavy rain bringing in more water than the river basin can handle. Other triggers for a Flash Flooding event include an ice or debris jam, rapid melting of snow, and dam failures. These aren’t mutually exclusive events either. Most of the time it’s a combination of these triggers that cause flash flooding in the Virginias.
There is plenty you can do to prepare for a flood, including knowing your risk. Check to see if you’re on a floodplain, there are several ways to do this, but the easiest is to head to the FEMA website and type your address in to find the flood map for your address. Check out the graphic below for other helpful tips on how to be flood ready:
During a flood it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings as conditions can change quickly during an active flash flood event. One of the easiest things you can do to stay safe is to remember the simple phrase, “Turn Around! Don’t Drown!” It’s never safe to cross a flooded roadway, in any situation. Oftentimes the water may be much deeper than anticipated or the road might even be washed out underneath the flood waters. At this point you’re not only risking your life but the lives of those who eventually may need to come rescue you from your vehicle.
After the flood, hazards still remain. Areas of standing water and damaged homes provide unseen issues that could still cause harm. Such as contamination with sewage and waste, or hidden structural damage to a home that was flooded. Caution needs to be taken while entering a flood damaged home to retrieve personal items or when assessing the damage.