Flooding According to the National Weather Service, flash flooding is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S., costing an average of $3.7 billion annually. FEMA cites flooding as the cause of 90 percent of all natural disaster damage, excluding drought. A flash flood is a rapidly rising and rapidly flowing surge of water that results from runoff from excessive rainfall or the failure of a dam or levee. While some floods might take several hours or days to develop, a flash flood may take only minutes, making flash floods particularly dangerous. Flash floods most often occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, but might also be the result of a dam or levee failure or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. They can destroy bridges, severely damage buildings, move boulders, wash away automobiles and cause mudslides. Two key elements contribute to the condition known as flash flooding: rainfall intensity and duration. Topography (the physical characteristics of the land, such as hills and valleys), soil conditions and ground cover also play an important role. Most flash flooding, however, is due to slow-moving thunderstorms. Heavy rains from hurricanes and tropical storms are also common causes of flash flooding. During periods of heavy rainfall or after severe winter storms, it’s important to listen to a weather radio or your local radio or TV stations for flood information. Make sure you’re familiar with the following terminology. Flood Watch: A flood watch means a flood is possible in your area. Be prepared to act quickly and move to higher ground if needed. Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your business, and put important documents in a waterproof container. Get your pre-assembled emergency supplies ready, and fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic bottles with clean water. Finally, make sure employees fill their cars' gas tanks in case an evacuation notice is issued. Flood Warning: A flood warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. Be alert to signs of flooding, and if floodwaters are threatening your business, evacuate quickly to higher ground. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or television stations for recommended evacuation routes. If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route. Flash Flood Watch: A flash flood watch means that flash flooding is possible in your area. Be alert to signs of flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice. Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood warning means a flash flood is already occurring or will occur very soon in your area. Evacuate immediately - you might only have seconds to escape. Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains, and be sure not to drive around barricades. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Floods are some of the most common and costly disasters in Virginia. Because flooding can happen anytime, anywhere and with little warning, it’s vital that you know how to respond quickly. Stay alert and informed: Know your area's flood risk - if unsure, call your state or local emergency management office. There is the possibility of flooding if it has been raining heavily for several hours or steadily raining for several days. Be alert if unusually warm weather occurs after a snowy period or an extended period of cold weather. Listen to your NOAA Weather Radio or your local radio or TV stations for flood information. When a flood watch is issued: Be prepared to act quickly and move to higher ground. If possible, move furniture, valuables and equipment to a higher floor of your home. If you have only one floor, place items on shelves, tables or countertops. Place important documents in waterproof containers. Get emergency supplies ready. Fill your vehicle's gas tank in case an evacuation is ordered. When a flood warning is issued: Flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. You might need to evacuate quickly to higher ground. Listen to your NOAA weather radio or local TV or radio station for recommended evacuation routes. If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route. When a flash flood watch is issued: Conditions are in place that could cause rapid and dangerous (flash) flooding in your area. Be alert to signs of flooding and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Follow steps for flood watch. When a flash flood warning is issued: Water is rapidly rising and is flooding your area or will be soon. Evacuate immediately! You might have only seconds to escape. Move quickly to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains. If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground If flash flooding occurs during a spring or summer storm, avoid the novelty of wading around new bodies of water - due to quick wash out erosion they may be deeper than you realize. Also, unnoticed water currents may carry you off after footing has been lost causing drowning or battering injuries. It is highly unlikely that major flooding would occur on campus, but it could at the "college farm" near Port Republic. Camping is prohibited at the "farm." One reason is that anyone camping by the river bank could be caught unaware by flooding originating from heavy storm upstream. Do not wander into a swollen stream since you may not know where the natural stream bank drops off. If caught outside, stay on high ground. Information compiled from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management http://www.vaemergency.com/.
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