Auburn, Ala.— Hurricane season is here, and several storms are circulating in the Atlantic. One storm, 99-L, is one Alabamians and people along the Southeast Coast should watch closely over the next five days. Weather forecasters are predicting the storm to move across the Bahamas and Florida and possibly enter the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say there is a 60 percent chance the storm will become a hurricane after it passes the Bahamas. Water temperatures in the Gulf are very warm and may contribute to the storm’s strength.
Flash floods and floods are the No.1 cause of deaths associated with thunderstorms and hurricanes. More than 11 fatalities have occurred in recent flooding in Louisiana. More than 60,000 homes have been damaged from the flooding. The flooding came so quickly after hours of heavy rain that many people had no time to prepare. Most flash flood fatalities occur at night, and most victims are people who become trapped in automobiles.
If this tropical disturbance approaches the Gulf of Mexico, everyone in its path should prepare for flash flooding. People in low-lying areas should be ready for possible evacuations because of heavy rains. Rain may fall for long periods of time.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has an iBook to help families, businesses and communities prepare for storms and clean up after they pass. The Emergency Handbook is a comprehensive resource for emergency planning, preparation and storm recovery. It is available as a free download from iBooks.
Flash floods occur in mountain canyons, valleys, in normally dry washes and houses or towns built close to streams. However, they can occur when a large amount of rain falls at one time thus filling up drains. Streets and parking lots can fill with water quickly. That is the case in the Baton Rouge area flooding. It rained so hard in such a short time that the rain had no place to go.
Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet. A depth of 2 feet will cause most vehicles to float. Flash floods can pick up cars, campers and mobile homes. They can roll large rocks, knock down trees and rip out roads and bridges.
Flash Flood Watch
The National Weather Service says a flash flood watch means there may be flooding. Stay alert and watch. Keep an eye on rivers, creeks and streams. If they rise, don’t wait; get to high ground fast.
Flash Flood Warning
A flash flood warning means there is flooding. Act immediately. Move to a safe area on high ground.
Prepare for a flash flood warning by being alert and having a plan. Know where high ground is and how to get there. Keep out of storm drains. Don’t play in irrigation ditches, dry washes or other waterways. These places can be dangerous even in fair weather. When it rains, the water can get deep fast and the current can be strong.
If you are in a car, watch for flooding at bridges and dips in the road. Never drive where water is over bridges or roads. Rapidly rising water can carry your car away and you with it. The road may already be washed out. Any time your car or recreational vehicle is trapped in water, leave it. Move quickly to high ground.
After a flash flood is over, keep listening to radio and TV reports. As flooding spreads, large areas may be under water.
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