Summer thunderstorms can create flash floods, flooding
Summer rains have arrived in New Mexico, and the US Forest Service is issuing safety precautions concerning the potential for flash floods and flooding, especially in the Gila National Forest and other areas where fires have burned acreage.
Flooding is the nation’s most common natural disaster and it can happen anywhere, according to the US Forest Service However, all floods are not alike. Some, such as flash floods, can occur quickly, even without any visible signs of rain. It’s important to be prepared for flooding especially if you are in a low-lying area, near water, or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or arroyo (dry creek bed) can overflow and create flooding. Other floods can develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or in a warming trend following a heavy snow.
When heavy thunderstorms are expected:
• If camping or picnicking, place the campsite on higher ground and avoid camping in drainage areas such as rivers, creeks, or arroyos and especially in narrow canyons.
Flash floods can quickly develop during heavy thunderstorms! During these downpours, extreme caution should be exercised when crossing any river, creek, or arroyo.
• Be informed! Know the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
• Know the weather patterns of the area! In mountainous areas, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon, so plan to hike early in the day and be down the mountain by noon.
Never drive across a flooded road! Statistics clearly indicate the high risk of driving in and around flooded roads and low spots. In many cases, individuals attempt to drive through flooded roads only to be whisked away by rushing waters. The rule is simple: if the road or its line markings cannot be seen, avoid driving through the water.
• As little as 1-foot of water can move most cars off the road.
• Just 6” of fast-moving flood water can sweep a person off his or her feet.
• Most flood-related deaths occur at night and are vehicular.
• Urban and small stream flash floods often occur in less than 1-hour.
For more information, visit the Turn Around, Don’t Drown website at http://tadd.weather.gov/.