It's already meteorological spring, meaning it's time to talk about flood safety as the snow (or what we have of it) melts, rivers and streams rise, and we see an increased threat of coastal flooding.
The National Weather Service is taking this week of March to go over flood safety tips as we head into the wet season. We are no strangers to flooding in Rhode Island and Southern New England -- in fact, we saw some of the worst property damage in the state in the flood of 2010 during mid-to-late March.
Here are five ways to prepare for potential flooding:
1. Spread the word: Turn around, don't drown!
It's perhaps the most notorious saying in weather, but there's a reason why it gets so much play. For one, just by looking at floodwaters, you can't accurately estimate how deep the water is.
As little as six inches of moving water can sweep an adult off their feet, and just 12 inches of it can carry a small car, too. Just over a foot of swiftly moving water can also carry away an SUV or truck. Even if you think you know how deep that particular part of the road is, it's better to avoid driving or walking through it altogether. It's not just the depth alone, either -- there's also the potential for hazardous debris or downed active power lines in or nearby the water.
Especially at night after a significant rainfall or flooding event when your vision is not as strong, play it safe and find an alternate route until the water recedes.
2. Sign up for local news and community alerts
Rest assured that public safety officials and meteorologists are looking out for you. By signing up for push alerts to your cellphone, home phone, or email, you'll be able to get up-to-the-minute information about flooding so you will be prepared. You can sign up for NOAA Radio that broadcasts any and all weather alerts around the nation, or opt for a local meteorologist to alert you when heavy rains or coastal flooding is possible.
3. Know the threat where you live
If you're new to your community, ask neighbors about the flooding risk specifically where your residence is. If you find that your area tends to flood very easily, perhaps it's time to get flood insurance so you know that if the worst happens, you'll be protected. It's always a good idea to go to your local library and check out a hyper-local topographical map of your community to get a good idea of where the closest body of water is so you can better estimate your chance of being directly affected.
4. Have a "go kit" ready during flood season
It's always a smart idea to have an evacuation plan in place for your family and pets, but if you know you could potentially be at risk for a flooding or flash flooding event during the spring or summertime, a "go kit" is a great way to always stay prepared. Some items you can keep in this waterproof kit are:
You can find a full list of items that are good to have at the ready year-round here.
5. Embrace Meteorology 101 and become a good observer
Just as meteorologists make sure we warn the public days in advance when we're aware of potential heavy rains or a coastal flooding event, it's important that you pay attention to the weather during this season and keep up with the forecast. Monitor the potential signs that point towards flooding or flash flooding in the springtime, like dark clouds moving in, long duration rain events, and heavy or torrential rain. When you see this occurring, plan to be vigilant on the roadways, get yourself and your family to high ground, and alert local friends and family of the risk, as well.
The NWS Boston is running Flood Safety Awareness Week through March 15.