During severe weather season in the Valley, we’ve seen tornadoes, damaging wind events and flooding.
But what is the greatest severe weather threat in our area?
Our area sees its fair share of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
Both can be dangerous, pulling down trees and power lines.
While many people think tornadoes pose the greatest threat, it’s actually flash flooding, according to Fred McMullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“Tornadoes impact a very small area, usually for weak tornadoes that we see in our area, compared to a flood that can impact streets, neighborhoods,” he said.
Flash flooding can be caused by a number of reasons but is most often due to extremely heavy rain from thunderstorms.
In our area, flash flooding is most common in June, July and August.
“We have lots of moisture, which helps produce higher rain rates, and we have wind-speed events where the winds don’t produce good storm motion, so the storms don’t move,” McMullen said.
It’s the perfect recipe for flash flooding.
Flash flooding can also occur for other reasons — excessive runoff from melting snow, ice jams or dam/levee breaks.
If you encounter a flash flooding situation — no matter the season — there are four words to remember: Turn around; don’t drown.
It only takes six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles, including pickups and SUVs.
“Sixty percent of all flood fatalities could have been prevented if they didn’t drive through flooded water,” McMullen said.