The number one weather-related cause of death in Texas is flash flooding.
Most flash flood victims fall into two categories:
- Motorists trying to cross a low-flooded area
- Children or young adults playing around flood waters
Flash Flood Facts
Flash flooding most frequently occurs across Texas from late afternoon into the early morning hours, when it is too dark to clearly see the danger. Even in the daytime, a flash flood is deceptive because light is "bent" as it travels through water, making the water appear to be shallow when it is really dangerously deep.
Because we look at flooding from the side or the bank, we judge the speed of the water from the edge of the flow, another dangerous misconception. The water on the outside of the flow is traveling slower because of the friction along the banks that slows it down. Flooding may also hide damage to a roadway or bridge crossing and large holes or even mini-canyons could be hidden beneath a street. Cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are especially vulnerable to flash floods, even if they have four-wheel drive. For every foot water rises, it can displace 1,500 pounds of automobile. As little as two feet of flooding will float most cars, and with electric windows and door locks, cars become death traps when passengers cannot get out due to electrical failures.
Never try to walk, swim or drive through swift water. Avoid flooded roads, streets, bridges, and low-water areas. If your vehicle stalls in deep water, you can try to move to higher ground, but you may not be able to do so safely. There are usually air pockets at the very top of the roof of the car and you may be able to survive for a short period.
Always stay informed about the weather by listening to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest flash flood watches and warnings. A flash flood watch means that flooding is possible - watch out for it and be alert. A flash flood warning means flooding has been reported - take immediate precautions to insure your safety. If you have even the slightest doubt about the "look" of a flood area - STOP! Turn around and go back. Your car, truck or SUV is not designed as a white-water river raft - don't try to make it perform like one.
The Division of Emergency Management warns people not to drive through high water or in flooded areas. When water begins to run curb deep in the streets, beware of flash flooding. As little as six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet and as little as one foot can cause a compact car to lose control and float away.
Don't be a statistic in the next round of flash floods. Pay attention to the warnings and do not take chances. That "must have" carton of milk or bag of potato chips can wait. No destination or appointment is worth the loss of your life or that of a loved one