UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR) — Rain isn’t the only factor that contributes to flash flooding. To determine risk, meteorologists often look at how saturated the ground is, meaning how much water the ground is holding compared to how much it can hold.
If it rains a lot but the ground is pretty dry, it can absorb most of that water, and the risk for flash flooding is low. If the ground is already holding a lot of water, however, it won’t be able to take on any more, and the flash flood risk is high.
The type of ground also affects how much water it can take. Areas with rocky or clay-like soil already don’t absorb water well and can quickly generate rapid flowing waters. Cities with mostly concrete ground are also at a higher risk, since water flows into storm drains that can quickly become overwhelmed during heavy rainfall.
The location of the rain is also very important. An area close to several streams and rivers is prone to flooding, not only from rain that falls in that area, but also from storms upstream. Rivers and streams can carry all that water downstream.
How can you prepare and increase your chance of survival in a flash flood event? Here’s what you can do before a flash flood strikes:
- Create a communications plan with family members to meet at a safe location
- Assemble an emergency kit with food, water, and medicine to last at least 3 days
- Stay tuned to local weather alerts and notifications as forecasters can determine where flooding is anticipated several days before it will happen.
- Charge any essential devices beforehand
During a flood, it’s important to stay informed, get to higher ground, and NOT try to walk or drive through floodwaters. It only takes six inches of rushing water to knock a person off their feet, and 12 inches to carry away most cars or small SUVs.