Flash floods are common across the United States. They happen in deserts, in mountain towns, and even in urban areas. Anytime the amount of rain falling exceeds what the land and infrastructure can handle, a flash flood can occur. No matter where you live, it’s best to know how to avoid flash floods and keep yourself and your passengers safe.
What are flash floods?
Flash floods are when massive amounts of water overwhelm an area’s infrastructure and waterways. Water moves rapidly, filling and overflowing the banks of rivers, spilling out of levees, and tearing through often dry arroyos in the desert.
Learn how to avoid flash floods:
First, know the area you’re traveling to. Here in Grand Junction, there are many shallow dry waterways and arroyos that can fill with water, even from thunderstorms 100 miles away. In the Rabbit Valley area or other areas of the desert like Coal Canyon, a flash flood can happen before you have time to think. So, know the area and know how to escape if a flash flood should occur. Look around for escape routes to higher ground.
Know the weather. If you know storms are moving through the area, or will be in areas that might impact where you are, then pick another day to drive through that canyon. It’s best to avoid danger, when at all possible, right? When learning how to avoid flash floods, the best rule of thumb is to just not be where they happen.
If you do decide to travel through areas prone to flash floods, or on days when flooding is possible, stay on high ground if possible. Avoid underpasses that might fill with water.
If you can’t avoid a flash flood
If you see water cover the road ahead of you, turn back. If you see water coming at you through a canyon, do whatever you can to get out of the way. If you are trapped and end up in water, stay calm. Do not panic. If the water has calmed down, get out of your car and head for higher ground. Use a stick, if you can find one, to help you navigate the flooded waters.
If the water is raging but your car isn’t totally submerged, stay put until the water calms down and then exit through a window and head for higher ground. If your car IS submerged, stay calm. You should be able to open the door once the car is completely submerged. Then you can exit and attempt to make your way to higher ground. If you’re in an area prone to flooding, consider keeping a tool like this one handy, as a backup method for getting out of your car.
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