National Weather Service offices throughout the United States are conducting a Flood Awareness Week from March 18th through 22nd, 2013. Flooding is the Number 2 weather killer in the United States, ahead of tornadoes and severe weather, and is the costliest weather-related disaster we face. While much of the focus remains on thunderstorms and tornadoes, flooding can often be an underrated killer.
A variety of flooding and related phenomena place Wisconsin during at risk. Flooding can result from a number of weather systems including slow-moving or stationary frontal systems or intense summertime thunderstorms. These systems can produce flash flooding in low lying flood prone areas and along small creeks and streams, as well as river flooding along mainstreams.
These two types of flooding may be confusing, so we thought we would take a minute to try and clarify the difference between them:
A Flash Flood Warning is issued for flooding that normally occurs within six hours of heavy or intense rainfall. This results in small creeks and streams quickly rising out of their banks. Dangerous flooding in areas near these creeks and streams, as well as low-lying flood prone areas, develops very quickly and is a significant threat to life and/or property.
An Areal (pronounced AIR - e - al) Flood Warning is normally issued for flooding that develops more gradually, usually from prolonged and persistent moderate to heavy rainfall. This results in a gradual ponding or buildup of water in low-lying, flood prone areas, as well as small creeks and streams. The flooding normally occurs more than six hours after the rainfall begins, and may cover a large area. However, even though this type of flooding develops more slowly than flash flooding, it can still be a threat to life and property.
Flood Awareness Week is intended to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods, and what you can do to save life and property.
Each day during Flood Awareness Week will be devoted to a different topic:
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In Wisconsin, for the period of 1982-2012, there were only 9 flood-related deaths, and 13 people were injured. However, three out of the past 5 years have had one flood-related fatality. In any case, relative to other parts of the country, Wisconsin has had relatively few flood-related fatalities and/or injuries.
For information on significant flooding events in south-central or southeast Wisconsin, click here.
Kapela, Hahn, NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan