Flooding: Know your risks

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Flooding is one of mother nature's deadliest forms of weather. Know your risks and what each warning and advisory means.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Whether it's a strong thunderstorm that produces a heavy burst of rain, a large system that brings rain for days, or a set-up allowing the same area to see storm after storm, flooding can often times be the outcome.


The National Weather Service issues many different alerts to warn the public of their flooding risk. Here's how they are broken down:

  • Flash Flood Warning: Take Action. A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. Move to higher ground if you are in an area prone to flooding. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It's even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.
  • Flood Warning: Take Action. A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event or flooding is imminent or already happening.
  • Flood Watch: Be Prepared. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
  • Flood Advisory: Be Aware. An Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience.


Leading cause of weather-related deaths: Flooding is the second leading cause of weather-related deaths in the Miami Valley across the United States. From 2010 -2018 there were 17 flood related deaths in Ohio. More than 50 percent of flood-related deaths occur when people are driving or walking in floodwaters.

Driving through standing or flowing water: Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs says water may look shallow enough, but water levels can be deceiving. It only takes a few inches of swift moving water to cause a vehicle to float.

Swimming in creeks: Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini reminds us that creeks and streams fill rapidly during heavy rain and flash flood events.

Know your forecast. A heavy rain upstream from the sunny spot where you may be swimming, could present danger quickly.


Rapid stream flow can rush debris down the creek, making for dangerous conditions, even days after a rain event.

Another danger in swollen creeks can be the under current you may not feel until you enter the water and are carried away.  A life jacket is the best option if you plan on swimming in a creek this spring or summer.


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