Typical of Kansas, where the weather is often either “feast or famine,” conditions have gone from drought to flood warnings almost over night.
No, actually they have gone to flood warnings in the midst of a continuing drought, because what is the most common type of water danger in this area is not the sort of flooding that is seen on national TV with the Mississippi or other major rivers.
What threatens Kansas residents most commonly are the flash flooding scenarios and those can come and go so quickly that they can do all sorts of water damage, even as the area remains in the grip of a serious drought.
According to weather experts, street flooding is a serious issue in Kansas, and it is much more common than other forms of severe weather, state experts urge.
Any given community can go for years without getting hit with a tornado, or even with a thunderstorm powerful enough to cause damage. But flash flooding — street flooding — is just a matter of time, and it can create situations that are more dangerous than they seem, especially to those who aren’t educated about flooding dangers.
Flash flooding can turn difficult weather conditions into fatal traps in a matter of moments, so experts continue to warn drivers to watch out for quickly changing weather conditions during the Kansas severe storm season.
Flash flooding can accompany thunderstorms and it is often more deadly than more “significant” flooding.
This area has seen flood-related deaths, and they happened in situations that most drivers would not have remembered as flooding. They happened in low-water, flash flood areas where people attempted to drive through water and were trapped in their vehicles as they filled with water.
And that doesn’t require a wall of water to stop a vehicle, either, experts warn. It only takes two feet of water to be swept off the road.
A good rule is to avoid water flowing over a roadway, and to never pass a barricade in flash flood conditions. The barricade is there for a reason, safety officials warn.
According to information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it is important that everyone be familiar with the terms that are used in flood hazards, including:
• Flood watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
• Flash flood watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground.
• Flood warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
• Flash flood warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately
Also, according to FEMA information, conditions don’t have to be impressively dangerous to actually cause problems.
Some of the flooding information from FEMA includes:
• Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
• A foot of water will float many vehicles.
• Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles and pick-ups.
The best advice, according to FEMA, is to stay out of moving water. Wait until the water has moved on to try to drive.