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New York Severe Weather Awareness Week
Friday May 3th, 2013
This is the fifth in a six part series on severe weather safety which is running during New York's Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Today we discuss flood safety and the differences between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning, and tell you what to do if a watch or warning is issued for your area.
Floods Can Be Deadly
Floods are the number one killer in the United States among weather-related natural hazards by almost a two-to-one margin over the second ranked killer, lightning. The main cause of death during floods comes from automobiles being swept away by flood waters. many people die in floods because they try to cross flooded roadways!
Central New York - A Long History of Floods
Devastating floods are no stranger to central new york. In fact, flooding ranks as the biggest threat to many communities in our region. There are many ways that flooding can develop over our area.
More overviews of past events can be found on the Weather Events page.
- A tropical feed of moisture parked over the area for several days such as June 2006 or September 2011. Both events caused catastrophic flooding over a large portion of central New York.
- Stationary thunderstorms caused a major flood in July 1935 and in Delaware county in June 2007.
- Tropical storms Agnes and Eloise both caused major floods over the area in 1972 and 1975 respectively.
- Rapid snow melt combined with heavy rainfall resulted in major floods in both January 1996 and April 2005.
What Types of Flooding are There?
Floods which occur on small streams and creeks when heavy rain falls in a short period of time are known as flash floods. They are the deadliest of all floods, and are the most difficult to forecast. Warning time can be very short. Flooding also occurs on our larger rivers and streams. A period of mild winter weather can cause ice on the river to break up, causing ice jam flooding.
What Does a Flood Watch Mean?
A Flood Watch means there is potential for flooding to occur, not that flooding is occurring. The watch is typically issued for several counties at a time, and ideally is issued 12 to 24 hours before flooding is expected. This way you will have enough time to prepare.
What You Should Do When a Flood Watch is Issued
Go about your normal activities, but make periodic checks of NOAA Weather Radio, or television and radio stations for updates and possible flood warnings. Know which county you live in, and where you are in relation to streams, creeks or rivers, which can become killers in heavy rains.
If you live or work in an area which is prone to flooding, have a safe evacuation route to use if flooding occurs. Make sure everyone in your home or office knows where to go if flooding occurs. Have a battery operated radio, and several flashlights available and in working order. Take precautions to secure your property.
What Does a Flash Flood Warning Mean?
A Flash Flood Warning means rapid life-threatening flooding is occurring, or will soon begin. You need to take action immediately to protect your life and property if you are in the danger area.
What You Should Do When a Flash Flood Warning Is Issued
Move to higher ground immediately and get out of the danger area. Never drive across bridges covered with water, or through areas where water covers the roadway. If your car stalls in a flooded or low lying area, abandon it immediately. Rapidly rising flood waters could easily sweep it away. Be especially careful at night, when it is harder to see flooded areas.
What Does a River Flood Warning Mean?
A River Flood Warning means that river levels will exceed flood stage on certain points along our larger rivers, like the Chemung, Susquehanna and Delaware rivers. River floods take longer to develop so they may not pose as much threat to life, but can take a much larger toll on property.
What You Should Do When a River Flood Warning is Issued
If you live in a flood plain, be prepared to evacuate if ordered to do so. Make sure you have all necessary items that you would need In the event that you cannot return home for several days. Make arrangements to protect your property by moving your valuables to higher ground, or an upper level of your home.
The weather safety topics for the remainder of the week will be as follows:
- Saturday, communications.
For additional severe thunderstorm weather safety and information on Severe Weather Awareness Week check out the National Weather Service Binghamton internet web site at:
NWS Binghamton, NY Preparedness
You can also contact:
Warning Coordination Meteorologist for NOAA's National Weather Service
Binghamton, NY 13290
Phone: 607-770-9531 x 223