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Weather Wednesday: Floods and Flood Safety

Flooding is one of the most dangerous weather hazards.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It feels like we've been seeing rain all winter long, and now we're looking toward severe weather season, so for today's Weather Wednesday we're talking about one of the most dangerous weather hazards: flooding.

Floods happen because water accumulates in the ground faster than the soil, or sometimes lack thereof, can soak it up. Bad flooding can result in property & infrastructure damage, erosion, and landslide risk – but most importantly, loss of life.  

There are three types of flooding: areal flooding, which develops gradually from persistent rain and can lead to standing water; flash flooding, which develops rapidly during or after a heavy downpour and leads to fast, damaging torrents; and river flooding, where rivers overfill and can spill over into the surrounding land. River flooding in particular can last after the rain as the river slowly drains downstream.

Credit: CDC

So how do you stay safe? First, listen to TV and radio for updates on warnings. Gather emergency supplies and be ready to evacuate on short notice. When you leave, cut off your utilities before you go. You can also fill bathtubs, sinks, and bottles with clean water to save in case water advisories go into effect when you’re back home. If you can't leave your home during aggressive flooding, escape to higher floors with windows or even to your roof.

Credit: NWS

If you evacuate, run to higher ground and if you see standing water: turn around, don't drown. Even if you're familiar with the road, it's impossible to know how deep that water is, and both yourself and your car can get swept away.

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