...Flood Safety Awareness Week 2010 - March 15-19th...

Flood Safety Awareness Week 2010
Monday, March 15 - Friday, March 19

Man standing in front of new home in water  up to his hips. House protected by sandbags. house behind flood waters

What is a Flood?

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. A flood is a general and temporary condition where normally dry land is inundated by water or mudflow. Many conditions can result in a flood: hurricanes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall. Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn’t just based on history, it’s also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.

National Weather Service offices throughout the United States are conducting a Flood Safety Awareness Week from March 15 through 19, 2010. Flooding is the #2 weather killer in the United States, ahead of tornadoes and severe weather, and is the costliest weather-related disaster we face, with $4.3 billion in property damage annually. While much of the focus remains on thunderstorms and tornadoes, flooding can often be an underrated killer.

Check out the Flood Safety Awareness page for more information.

Flooding is a coast to coast threat to the United States and its territories in all months of the year. National Flood Safety 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.

Q: What types of flooding can occur in my area?

  • Flash Flooding occurs in creeks, streams, and urban areas within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more. Streets can become swift moving rivers and underpasses can become death traps.
  • River Flooding occurs from heavy rains and in extreme cases, river floods can last a week or more.

Q: How do I know how severe a flood will be?

Within flood warning products, the NWS conveys the magnitude of observed or forecast flooding using flood severity categories. These flood severity categories include minor flooding, moderate flooding, and major flooding. Each category has a definition based on property damage and public threat.

  • Minor Flooding: minimal or no property damage, but possibly some public threat or inconvenience
  • Moderate Flooding: some inundation of structures and roads near streams. Some evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations are necessary.
  • Major Flooding: extensive inundation of structures and roads. Significant evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations.

The impacts of a floods vary locally.  For each NWS river forecast location, flood stage and the stage associated with each of the NWS flood severity categories are established in cooperation with local public officials.  Increasing river levels above flood stage constitute minor, moderate, and major flooding.  Impacts vary from one river location to another because a certain river stage (height) in one location may have an entirely different impact than the same level above flood stage at another location.

Each day during Flood Safety Awareness Week will be devoted to a different topic:

Flood Awareness Week Schedule
March 15
AHPS (Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service)
We'll feature a section of our web page devoted to providing enhanced and more detailed information to help you make decisions when flood threats arise. (You can check out the Southwest Missouri AHPS page here.)

March 16

Turn Around, Don't Drown (TADD)
Find out more about a campaign of the National Weather Service intended to warn people of the hazards of walking or driving a vehicle through flood waters.
March 17
Floods, Droughts, and Other Related Phenomena: Tropical Cyclone Inland Flooding, Drought
The Missouri Ozarks region is especially susceptible to Flash Flooding due to the numerous low water roads and bridges in this part of the country. The variable topography of the Ozarks, with its many ridges, river and stream valleys and dry creeks creates areas where rapid changes in water level can occur as a result of heavy rainfall.  

March 18
                        logo and link

Flood Insurance

Your homeowners insurance doesn't cover flood damage! We'll devote Thursday to explaining the National Flood Insurance Program, and help you find out if you might be threatened.

March 19
Flood Safety
More people are killed in floods than any other natural disaster except extreme heat. Flash flooding is the number one thunderstorm-related hazard. We'll cover ways to ensure your survival during flooding.
Related Links and Publications

Flash Flood Risk Analysis Project (FFRAP)

National Weather Service Springfield MO


road sign

Flash floods pose a significant threat to life and produce a  substantial loss of property, crops, roads, etc. across the Missouri Ozarks and southeast Kansas each year. The rocky and steep terrain of the Ozark Plateau coupled with hundreds of small streams and rivers result in a significant flash flood hazard. The threat to life is compounded by the hundreds of low water crossings across the Ozarks. Recent flood events have demonstrated the dangers of low water crossings with numerous water rescues.

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NOAA Logo Low Water Crossing Map

NOAA Logo Flash Flood Symposium

NOAA Logo Flash Flood Awareness

NOAA Logo FFRAP Operational Demonstration

NOAA Logo FFRAP GIS Analysis

NOAA Logo Flash lood Briefing Page



The Flash Flood Risk Analyis Project was created to better understand river basins and flood prone areas, and their response to heavy rainfall rates and amounts in order to provide flash flood warnings with longer lead time, greater accuracy and more specific information.

The purpose of developing a flash flood threat analysis tool is three old.

  • Enhance the Flash Flood Warning Process
    • Development of GIS enhanced Flash Flood Analysis
    • Identify flash flood behavior factors  including physiographic and societal impacts
    • Categorize flood risk rating for basins, streams  and low water crossings
    • Develop utilities that integrate this data into the warning process
  • Support the Emergency Management Community
    • Provide emergency management with data to assess local flood threatts
    • Detailed flood risk information for specific basins, streams and communities
    • Support effective flood risk assessment and mitigation activities
  • Improve Flash Flood Warning Response
    • More detailed flash flood warnings listing low water crossings
    • Create GIS enhanced flash flood warnings
    • Integrate findings from societal impact research
    • Develop flood safety campaigns

The end goal is to provide the public and other agencies with accurate and detailed flash flood warning information for the protection of lives and property. 

FFRAP Description

A number of complex factors influence the behavior of flash floods and the effectiveness of the flash flood warning process. The WSR-88D has demonstrated to be highly effective at estimating rainfall rates and amounts. However, flash flood behavior is influenced by basin geography and steepness, soil characteristics, antecedent soil conditions, vegetation and forest coverage, location of roads, land use and urbanized areas, etc. The effective management and assessment of such varied data further compounds the warning process.

The goal of this project is to develop utilities that integrate this data into the flash flood warning decision making process and provide more timely, accurate and detailed flash flood warnings.

In warning operations, the flash flood threat analysis tool would be used by the warning operator in conjunction with the Flash Flood Monitoring Program (FFMP) to assess the flood threat over a given area or basin. The tool by which this data will be analyzed will be developed as this project progresses but include detailed maps and charts, linked databases, photos of streams and flood prone areas, and web links. The maps would include detailed river basins, streams, flood prone areas, cities, roads, low water crossings, archived flood events, etc.

In addition, this data could be provided to the emergency management community to be used as a means of assessing local flood threats and mitigating flood risk. This data could be used to analyze flood prone areas and develop flood mitigation efforts prior to flood events, or assess the flood risk areas and instigate precautionary measures during a flood event.

In addition to the hydro-meteorological and physical processes, other socio-economic factors play a role in flash flooding including urban planning and warning response. This overall flash flood risk assessment will require the assimilation of data from a number of sources.

The flood analysis would be provided to emergency management and the general public via the internet. This system could be developed similar in style to the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services (AHPS) but contain information pertaining to flash flood potential and impacts.

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