• 45°

Watch for flooding

A heavy amount of rain last week, and more expected over the coming week, has brought to the top of everyone’s mind the dangers of flash flooding.

It’s something people in this area rarely think about, but it can occur here. Even large ponds of water that aren’t technically flash floods can be dangerous to you and your vehicle.

The website of the National Weather Service states that general river flooding can occur when heavy rains and runoff fill river basins with water too quickly. Flash floods occur suddenly and usually within hours of excessive rainfall.

“Flash floods can become raging torrents, ripping through neighborhoods, streets or valleys, destroying whatever is in their path,” the website states.

A flood watch is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions look favorable for flash flooding, the website states. A flash flood warning is issued for a smaller, more specific area and means that flash floods pose an imminent threat.

“You may only have seconds to move to higher ground,” the website states.

Pictures of flooding throughout the region were widely shared on social media Friday. It’s unclear whether there were technically any flash floods, but it was clear that water quickly overwhelmed lots of places.

Unlike tornadoes and hurricanes, the dangers of flash floods aren’t well publicized in movies and news segments, and many people don’t have experience with seeing them firsthand. But that doesn’t mean their dangers shouldn’t be heeded.

The most important thing to know about flooding is “Turn around, don’t drown!” Six inches of water can sweep a person off his feet. Two feet of water will carry a car downstream. Never attempted to cross a flowing stream on foot where water is above your ankles, and never drive around barricades or attempt to cross an area where there is so much water you cannot see the road.

The National Weather Service also advises to abandon your vehicle immediately and seek higher ground if your vehicle stalls. The flood water may rise quickly and sweep it away.

People should also stay away from flood prone areas such as stream beds, drainage ditches and culverts, remain alert and move to higher ground if flooding threatens, and not allow children to play in or around flowing water.