Whether during a summer thunderstorm or the result of days of endless rain, it’s important to realize that flooding is a greater threat than is often perceived.
You may have heard the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” stated by meteorologists and news reporters throughout the years. This phrase is a slogan coined by NOAA and the National Weather Service to help you remember not to put yourself in danger when encountering floodwaters.
Keep in mind that behind heat waves and tornadoes, flooding is the number three weather killer, nation-wide, as of 2014 (see graph above). Over a 30-year average spanning from 1985 to 2014, flooding is still number one cause of weather-related deaths, mainly due to people drowning from attempting to drive through floodwaters.
For that reason, it is important to remember the following information from the National Weather Service:
- It only takes 6 inches (half a foot) of swiftly moving water to knock down an adult
- It only takes 12 inches (one foot) of swiftly moving water to float and wash away a small vehicle (including compact cars and sedans)
- It only takes 24 inches (two feet) of swiftly moving water to float and wash away large vehicles, like trucks and SUVs
A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you can’t see the road underneath the water, then it is too dangerous to attempt to pass through.
In addition to floating cars, floodwaters create a lot of pressure on the roadways, often times actually washing away the ground that the road was built on.
Many who perish in flash flooding make the fatal assumption that they are driving over a road, when in reality they are driving into a swiftly moving current.
Bottom line: When in doubt, heed the advice. Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
Before hitting the road, be sure to download the WHNT News19 and LiveAlert19 weather apps — they will give you important information that you will need to know regarding local road closures as well as current hazardous weather watches and warnings.
– Christina Edwards