BLOG: A Guide To Flood Warnings

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Flash Flood Watch, Flash Flood Warning, Flood Warning, Areal Flood Advisory and River Flood Warning… This can be confusing to sift through, especially when multiple warnings are in effect.

There are a lot of products the National Weather Service can issue when heavy rain could result in flooding or flash flooding. This can be confusing, so let’s take a look at what each of these mean for you when flooding threatens your safety.

A FLASH FLOOD WATCH is issued when there is the potential for heavy rain that could result in rapid flooding. Much like a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch, a Flash Flood Watch is usually issued well in advance of heavy rain that could result in flash flooding.

A FLASH FLOOD WARNING is issued when flash flooding is occurring or is imminent. A Flash Flood Warning is also time sensitive, meaning that rapid flooding could occur immediately or within six hours of the heavy rain. A Flash Flood Warning should be treated as an immediate threat to life and property.

A FLOOD WARNING (OR AREAL FLOOD WARNING) is issued when prolonged period of moderate of heavy rain results in gradual flooding. This can include the build up of water in low lying areas, ponding on roads, or a gradual rise in streams and creeks. This slow build up of water can often occur well after the rain has stopped.
Sometimes a Flood Warning can replace a Flash Flood Warning after the threat of rapidly rising water has subsided but creeks and streams are still high.

A FLOOD ADVISORY (OR AREAL FLOOD ADVISORY) is issued when the threat of flooding is not an immediate threat to life and property. A Flood Advisory usually is a result of some ponding on the roads or low lying areas.

A RIVER FLOOD WARNING is issued when enough rain has fallen to increase the river to near or over flood stage. This could result in flooding of areas around the river.

All warning should be taken seriously, but here is an easy way to keep track of the threat. Life threatening flash flooding like what happened in Y City, and recently in Northwest Arkansas with high water rescues usually occur when a FLASH FLOOD WARNING is in effect.

When a FLASH FLOOD WARNING is in effect for your area, remember this simple phrase that can save your life “Turn Around, Don’t Drown“.

For more information on flooding and flooding safety visit the National Weather Service Tulsa’s page here.