Hazardous Weather: Flood Waters

Our proximity to the Gulf of Mexico with all its tropical storms and hurricanes makes us particularly vulnerable. Flooding downpours from Tropical Storm Helene in June 2001 took the life of a FSU student on Dewey Street. Most flood deaths occur in automobiles.

"The reason that occurs is because your wheels are like pontoons. They'll float your vehicle very easily. You get fast moving water. Water weighs a lot... and it'll take you right off."

In order to prevent these tragedies, the National Weather Service initiated the "turn around, don't drown" program.

"It's really intended to get folks to think about where they're driving through before they go there. If they see water over a road, we really do not want them to go across a road covered with water in their vehicle, even though they might feel safe."

The Withlacoochee River near Valdosta and the Sopchoppy River in Florida are two of the fastest flooders in our area. Urban areas can also flood rapidly. But soon Tallahassee residents can access rain gauge data online. It's the result of a joint effort among the national weather service, the city of Tallahassee and the Northwest Florida management district, and it's called the "Capitol Area Flood Warning Network."

"The Capitol Area Flood Warning Network was established so that we could track developing weather conditions and evaluate existing stream levels so that we can get ahead of and identify developing flood conditions."

These gauges are scattered about Leon County and will help folks monitor rainfall amounts.

There are some things you can do. Monitor weather broadcasts for in advance of a potential flood event. Always listen for a flash flood warning, which can give you time to seek a dry, safe haven.

The 127 fatalities attributed to flooding nationwide each year are almost double that of lightning, the number two weather-related killer.