SHREVEPORT, La - Except for heat related fatalities, more deaths occur from flooding than any other hazard. Why? Most people fail to realize the power of water. For example, six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock you off your feet.
While the number of fatalities can vary dramatically with weather conditions from year to year, the national 30-year average for flood deaths is 88. That compares with a 30-year average of 41 deaths for lightning, 68 for tornadoes and 45 for hurricanes.
National Weather Service data also shows:
- Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle-related,
- The majority of victims are males, and
- Flood deaths affect all age groups.
Most flash floods are caused by slow moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms that move repeatedly over the same area or heavy rains from tropical storms and hurricanes. These floods can develop within minutes or hours depending on the intensity and duration of the rain, the topography, soil conditions and ground cover.
Flash floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more. Furthermore, flash flood-producing rains can also trigger catastrophic mud slides.
Occasionally, floating debris or ice can accumulate at a natural or man-made obstruction and restrict the flow of water. Water held back by the ice jam or debris dam can cause flooding upstream. Subsequent flash flooding can occur downstream if the obstruction should suddenly release.
Follow these safety rules.
- Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio, KTBS, and the KTBS Weather App.
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc.
- Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. If you enter a flowing stream and the water gets above you knee, TURN AROUND DON'T DROWN.
- If driving be aware that the road bed may not be intact under flood waters. Turn around and go another way. NEVER drive through flooded roadways! If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep you and your occupants away.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.