Advertisement

Flash Flooding: why it shouldn’t come as a surprise

Cars under water
Cars under water(Terry Vosbein)
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 10:03 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(WHSV) - Flash flooding is a common threat with severe thunderstorms that impact our area. It shouldn’t come at a surprise if it were to happen.

WHAT IS FLASH FLOODING

Flash flooding is a flood that occurs due to excessive rainfall in a short amount of time. This type of flooding arrives and ends quicker than river flooding.

With flash flooding, water accumulates very quickly and overwhelms anything it flows into like streams, creeks, and storm drains. This creates a lot of rushing water in paths that water typically drains.

Torrential rain and flooding decimated Staunton residences and businesses and caused millions...
Torrential rain and flooding decimated Staunton residences and businesses and caused millions of dollars of damage in the city.I(WVIR)

HOW IT HAPPENS

Terrain plays a big factor in flash flooding as mountainous areas or places with a lot of hills are more prone to flash flooding. Flash flooding is extremely dangerous as it can have a strong enough current to take you and your vehicle with it. If you are driving and come across this, turn around and don’t drown!

Flash flooding also can cause significant water damage to structures and can still happen with thunderstorms even if you are in a severe drought and water levels were low before the storm.

Flash flooding typically happens with slow moving or stationary thunderstorms. It’s important to note that if storms are in the forecast, you cannot rule out the chance for flash flooding.

The perfect example of this was the August 2020 Staunton flood. The forecast called for only isolated thunderstorms that night. Most of the area did not see rain but there was one small, slow-moving thunderstorm that had formed and it sat over Staunton for several hours.

A heavy thunderstorm had stalled out over Staunton causing serious flash flooding.
A heavy thunderstorm had stalled out over Staunton causing serious flash flooding.(WHSV)

CONTINUOUS STORMS

Flash flooding can also happen over time. When storm after storm leads to heavy rainfall, this can increase the flooding risk. A good example of this was in 2018, we call this the year it never stopped raining.

By mid-May, we had our first big rain event that led to flooding along Route 42. For the rest of the year, storm after storm brought more reain, and heavy rain to the area.

Flooding along Cook's creek, Route 42 in Dayton
Flooding along Cook's creek, Route 42 in Dayton(Mike Shank)

The year 2018 set records for the amount of rain.

Copyright 2022 WHSV. All rights reserved.