A bigger killer than tornadoes

A freightened woman stands on top of her car, which has been mostlyi submerged by a flosh flood
NWS photo.

When it comes to severe weather, not much creates as much fear as a tornado. But believe it or not, flash floods kill more Americans every year than do tornadoes.

Alex Kirchner, chief meteorologist of Rockford, Ill. TV station WREX points out this fact in an excellent article on the station’s website.

Flash flooding has killed an average of 85 people a year over the last 30 years, Kirchner explains. It happens when heavy rain falls faster than the ground can absorb it and/or faster than storm drains can carry it away.

“During a flash flood, remember that flooding does not only occur near rivers. Roads and intersections can be flooded quickly with excess rainfall.”

One of the best points Kirchner makes is that flash floods do not only occur near rivers. Excess rainfall can flood roads and intersections in urban areas quickly.

More than half of all flood deaths are vehicle-related, caused by drivers trying to drive through flood waters, then getting stuck and drowning. This often happens at night, because it’s harder for drivers to see how deep water is.

The National Weather Service activates weather alert radios and wireless emergency alerts on smart phones when it issues a flash flood warning. Avoid adding to the statistics quoted above by heading those warnings and the NWS slogan, “turn around, don’t drown.”

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