BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — There are several flood products and it may be hard to know what to do when a flood alert goes off for your community, or even know what each product means.
Here is a quick explanation of two common flood products we have here in Alabama and what they mean.
First, we’ll start with warning vs advisory. Warnings require immediate action, as any type of weather warning means that the weather danger is imminent. An advisory indicates conditions pose a significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.
Flash Flood Warning – These warnings are issued when a heavy rain occurs, generally within a short amount of time. These happen quickly and can lead to death. Flash floods are the number one weather-related causes of death, with over half of these deaths happening as a result of a vehicle-related drowning. Dangerous flooding in areas near creeks and streams, as well as low-lying flood prone areas, develops very quickly and is a significant threat to life and/or property, according to the National Weather Service.
What you need to do: If a flash flood warning is issued and you are driving, avoid low lying areas, or places that have ponding on the roadways. We often use the phrase “Turn Around. Don’t Drown.” It is important to avoid roadways covered with water as it only takes about 12″ of standing to completely sweep a car/SUV off the road.
Another common flood product, that might cause more confusion is the Areal Flood Warning.
According to the National Weather Service, an Areal Flood Warning is 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.
Therefore, the biggest difference between a Flash Flood and Areal Flood is the time and coverage. Flash = happening quickly and in a very specific area. Areal = rain for more than 6 hours and often impacting a larger area.