We often hear the term “flash flooding,” but few people understand exactly what that means or what causes these dangerous types of floods. It is important for San Diego residents to understand what a flash flood involves and how to stay safe during these events, as well as how to handle cleanup afterwards.
WHAT IS A FLASH FLOOD?
A flash flood is a rapid flooding event that can be caused by a number of weather-related conditions and is distinguished by a timescale of less than six hours, as opposed to general floods which often occur over days. Flash floods can be caused by heavy rains from a several thunderstorm, hurricane or tropical storm, or from melting of ice or snow from higher areas such as mountains. In some cases, flash floods are caused by man-made problems such as the breaking of a dam.
Flash floods are considered the most dangerous types of floods because they combine the destructive force of water with speed and an unpredictable path. Flash floods can happen with almost no warning, causing serious damage to property or trapping people in their homes or vehicles.
Densely populated areas such as San Diego are at high risk for flash floods. This is because the massive construction of roads, highways, driveways and parking lots increases storm runoff and reduces the amount of bare ground available to absorb rain. High runoff can increase flash flood potential, particularly if that runoff is directed to low-lying storm drains. Lower-lying areas are always at greater risk of flooding, so underpasses, parking garages and basements are particularly dangerous places to be during a flash flood.
In addition, any area near a body of water or a dam is at particular risk from flash flooding, including those who are vacationing or camping near a river or stream. In rural areas, it is not uncommon for a stream to increase from six inches in depth to 10 feet in one hour during a flash flood.
During heavy rains, desert areas are also in danger, as the ground may be too dry to easily absorb water which becomes a flash flood.
WHAT CAN I DO IN A FLASH FLOOD?
A flash flood can be extremely dangerous; in fact, flash floods are the number one cause of weather-related death in the United States. Take steps to protect your safety and that of your family if you are in danger from a flood, including:
If you have experienced damage in your home from a flood, contact the experts at J&M Keystone for help in safely cleaning and sanitizing your property.
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