Tag Archives: flood

  • California Fears Flooding in El Niño Winter

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    In a cruel, ironic twist of fate, California fears a very wet and rainy winter season.

    El Niño is expected to bring bucketloads of water to California, but that's not necessarily a good thing. After being in an intense drought for four years, one would think the thought of rain – and a lot of it – is a wonderful thing for the water-wanting state. But that’s not how the world works, is it? According to Emergency Management, “too much rain coming down too fast could sink low-lying communities,” of which there are plenty.

    El Niño floods thingsUnfortunately, that’s what happens when it pours rain over parched ground. The soil is just too hard, too closed-off to water to allow much at all in. Water will just collect on the surface, traveling the route of least resistance. This could mean your home will get flooded, and you can almost guarantee the streets will turn to rivers. California most definitely needs rain, but this might be a little bit counterproductive when it comes to beating the drought.

    Just one wet winter won’t do the trick, either. Phys.org describes in more detail what is needed for the drought to subside. For starters, one doctoral student stated that California needs “several consecutive wet years, and specifically several where substantial snowpack persists into spring so that it can slowly replenish our groundwater aquifers and provide long-term relief from drought.”

    For that to happen, California would need to receive more than double their annual precipitation this winter. The chances of that happening? Not good. Considering it’s never happened before, that kind of tells you what the state is up against.

    Despite not curing the drought, it will at least be some sort of relief to the folks there. However, watch out for flooding.

    The best time to start preparing, of course, is now. Throughout the Bay Area, trees are being trimmed, creek beds are being shored up, and other preventative measures are being taken so that when the storms do come, things won’t be as bad as they could be.

    Likewise, today is the day you should start preparing for floods and heavy rain. This goes for you folks not living in California, too. Just because El Niño and floods are expected in California doesn’t mean you won’t get any flooding in your neck of the woods, too.

    One thing to consider going in to this wet time of year is flood insurance. The time to act for that really is now, because flood insurance doesn’t activate until 30 days after you get it. So, if a storm is forecast and then the floods rise up to your door, the time for getting insurance is well past.

    Tree Trimming for El NiñoFollowing the example of the Bay Area workers wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. They’re going around taking care of trees, gutters, storm drains, and other things before they become a problem. You can do the same. Take a look at your home. How flood proof is it? Do you have sandbags to keep the water back should your street start flooding? Are the gutters on your home cleared of leaves, twigs, and other debris? Are your trees trimmed so they won’t crack and fall on your home in a strong storm? These are just a few things to watch out for.

    Floods can also cause a danger while driving. When you come to a flooded street, the National Weather Service says “it is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.” Their motto is Turn Around Don’t Drown, and that should be your motto, too.

    It is fortunate that California will be receiving more moisture, but that will come with a cost. You know it’s coming, so act now and start preparing. You don’t want to be caught high and dry (so to speak), especially when you have the time to get ready.


    How are you prepared for El Niño?


    Disaster_Blog_Banner El Niño

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: rain, California, el Nino, flood, preparedness

  • Flash Flooding Washes Away Hikers [Video]

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    "We turned and we saw the water flowing up like a large wave.”

    Flash FloodingThat’s according to Renee Lusano when she and her friends nearly became the victims of a flash flood on Commando Trail in East Maui recently. Her friend Sean was washed off the top of the waterfall, and the whole party had to quickly climb to higher ground. The water rose quickly, and miraculously nobody died. The group even had a drone camera and captured the entire ordeal (see video at the end of this article).

    One moment everyone was having a good time. The next they were fighting for their lives.

    Flash floods are no joke, and as the name implies, they can happen in a flash. That’s why it’s important to know the dangers wherever you are, and to pay heed to warnings. Maui had received a lot of rain just before this incident due to nearby hurricanes, and a flood advisory had been issued. The group continued with their hike, however.

    You, too, could face a flash flood, no matter where you live, hike, camp, or vacation. One of the best ways to avoid being caught in one is to know your surroundings, weather conditions, and check for local advisories.

    Saddle Dome Flash Flooding Calgary's Saddledome flooded when the Bow River flooded its banks.

    When it comes to weather, the most common cause of flash flooding is intense rainfall. Depending on the condition of the ground, this water could start flooding almost instantly. Soft ground like sand and good soil can hold more water, whereas clay and wilt don’t absorb water as well, so it starts flooding much faster after the rain starts falling.

    The depth of bedrock also plays a factor in flash flooding. The closer the bedrock is to the surface, the faster it will flood. This is because there’s just not as much room for water to soak in to the soil as there would be if the bedrock were much further down. More soil, more saturation, less flooding.

    Urban Flash FloodingUrbanization and fire are also huge factors in flash flooding. Obviously, water can’t permeate concrete very well, so the more roads and sidewalks the water reaches, the greater chance of a flood. Wildfires can change the way the soil takes in water, essentially making it hydrophobic. This means that the ground repels water rather than taking it in. So in places like California or Washington that have had some extended wildfires, there could be some even greater risks for flash flooding (except maybe in California, because the rain doesn’t seem to go there much, anyway).

    With colder weather on approach, hard and freezing ground can also pose a problem for saturation. If the ground starts freezing and then receives a lot of rain or fast-melting snow, be prepared for some flash flooding.

    To sum up, heavy rainfall and its inability to soak into the ground can cause massive flooding in an instant. Check out your surroundings where you live and plan accordingly.


    And in case you forgot, here’s the video of the hikers’ near-death experience with a flash flood:



    What risks of flash flooding do you see near your home?


    Disaster_Blog_Banner Flash Flooding

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: rainfall, drone, hawaii, Flash flood, flood

  • 5 Types of Floods You Should Prepare For

    The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “flood” is water in places where it shouldn’t be. While that explanation is pretty accurate, there’s a lot more to floods than just that. For example, did you know there are five types of floods? It’s true, and they are something you should be aware of so you can know your risks. Some of these types of floods may be more applicable to some regions than others, but there is at least one type that can affect you. So here they are, the five types of floods, courtesy of our the good folks at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.


    River Flood

    Types of Flood - River FloodJust like it sounds, a river flood occurs when a river overflows its banks. This happens for a few different reasons. One, lots of rain. Whether it’s tropical systems (tropical storms, hurricanes, etc.) reaching land and dumping all its contents relatively quickly, or prolonged rain from thunderstorms in the same area, this kind of precipitation can cause rivers to flood. Melting snow can cause rivers to rise quickly, too. Remember all the snow that came for a visit last winter? Well, when it melted, rivers rose well above their banks. The Ohio River rose nearly six feet over its flood stage! So if you live in an area near a river, be prepared for a river flood.


    Coastal Flood

    Types of Flood - Coastal FloodIf you live near the coast, be ready for a coastal flood. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), these are “caused by higher than average high tide and worsened by heavy rainfall and onshore winds.” Lower elevation also plays a factor in coastal water flooding up on land.


    Storm Surge

    Types of Floods - Storm Surge - NOAA Courtesy of NOAA

    Another type of flood found on the coast, storm surges are caused by severe storms. Strong winds, large waves, and low atmospheric pressure all help the tide rise abnormally high. Combined with high tide, storm surges can raise water level by 30 feet or more. As you might imagine, having a surge of ocean water come crashing over land can cause some wide-spread flooding. Storm surges are one of the biggest threats to life and property during hurricanes. According to the NSSL, “at least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.”


    Inland Flood

    Types of Floods - Inland FloodThere are a few different scenarios in which inland flooding can occur, although the end result is pretty similar. Steady rain over several days or intense precipitation in a short period of time can both cause the soil to become so saturated with moisture that it can’t hold anymore. When that happens…you’ve got yourself inland flooding. Rivers overflowing is another cause of inland flooding. But no matter what the cause, virtually any area is susceptible to this kind of flood. You might not think it, but even homes built on hills can be effected by inland flooding (trust me, I know from experience).


    Flash Flood

    Types of Floods - Flash FloodHeavy rainfall in a very short amount of time, the NSSL describes flash floods as usually taking place after less than six hours of rain, and “are usually characterized by raging torrents…that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them.” Even without heavy rainfall, flash floods can come rushing in unannounced. These surprise visits can occur due to a dam failure, or after water is suddenly released, such as the breaking up of an ice jam. Check out the following video to see an example of a flash flood. Notice how fast the water moves, and the objects it carries with it.


    No matter where you live, flooding is a threat you shouldn’t ignore. While some areas are more prone to flooding than others, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Make sure you know the flood risks in your area and what to do to prepare.

    For more information about floods (and other disasters), click the image below!


    Types of Floods - Disaster Page

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: inland, river, coastal, flood types, storm surge, Flash flood, flood

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