All floods are hazardous, but according to some of the federal government’s top experts, flash floods — the kinds that can sweep cars off roadways — are the most dangerous.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Severe Storms Laboratory, based in Norman, Oklahoma, routinely warns motorists to never underestimate the power of flowing water. They define flash floods this way because they combine the destructive power of a flood with incredible speed and unpredictability.
Flash floods occur when excessive water fills normally dry creeks or river beds along with currently flowing creeks and rivers, causing rapid rises of water in a short amount of time. They can happen with little or no warning anywhere in the country — and they have caused injuries and fatalities in and around Fort Leonard Wood.
Motorists should use extreme caution when driving on roads affected by high water or flooding. Safety officials say motorists often overestimate the ability of a vehicle to cross. In fact, the No. 1 reason people drown during flooding is because they fail to realize the amount of force flowing water contains.
According to the National Weather Service, a mere 6 inches of fast-moving floodwater can knock over an adult.
It takes only 2 feet of rushing water to carry away a vehicle — including pickups and SUVs.
It is important for civilians and service-members alike to pay attention to weather reports and warnings, especially those sent out by Fort Leonard Wood’s Emergency Operations Center and Range Operations, which alert training units to areas that have high waters and areas temporarily closed to travel.
The ongoing NWS safety campaign urges motorists to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”