DANGERS of Inland Flooding
The National Weather Service in Burlington, as part of a larger Annual Hurricane Awareness Week across New England and in partnership with the state of Vermont, will recognize July 16th as Hurricane Flooding Awareness Day in Vermont.
“Vermont has suffered several major storms since I’ve been Governor. We have learned the critical importance of planning at the state, local and individual level for these disasters,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin. “There is every reason to expect more weather challenges, making planning and preparation for hurricanes – and all major weather events, including blizzards and ice storms – even more important.
Although Vermont is far inland and is usually spared a direct hit by most hurricanes, remnants of tropical systems from as far away as the Gulf of Mexico can reach Vermont and cause significant problems in the form of heavy rainfall and inland flooding.
Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 was an example of the potential dangers of inland flooding due to a more direct landfall in New England. The devastating flooding left by Irene reshaped Vermont’s landscape and severely damaged infrastructure, including roads, bridges and railroad tracks. Hundreds of homes and businesses suffered great losses with property damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars as well as the loss of human life.
In September 1999, Tropical Storm Floyd made landfall across southern New England, yet delivered damaging winds in excess of 50 mph as well as heavy, flooding rains to much of Vermont. One fatality and millions of dollars of property damage occurred with this storm.
In August 1995, Tropical Storm Dean made landfall across Texas, yet the remnants of that storm reached Vermont and deposited 5 to 8 inches of rainfall. Devastating flooding occurred within the Lamoille River Valley.
Since the 1970s, inland flooding has been responsible for more than half of the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States. The losses suffered from Irene in 2011 demonstrate the importance for the need of advanced planning by every one of us, to minimize impacts in the future.
1. Determine if you live in a potential flood zone, and if so, seek flood insurance.
2. Develop a flood emergency action plan, including potential evacuation routes over higher ground.
3. Develop a disaster supply kit for this or any other threat. Kits generally include food and water, battery powered radio, medications, flashlights, extra atteries, and many more life sustaining items.
4. When you hear of a tropical system forecast to affect the Northeastern United States, check the latest forecasts from any weather sources, including the National Weather Service to better understand the what impacts are expected.
5. Heed all National Weather Service flood watches and warnings.
6. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately utilizing pre-determined best evacuation routes.
7. If you do encounter a road that is flooded, NEVER attempt to drive across the flood waters; “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”. More than half of all flood-related drowning’s occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.
The official NOAA/National Hurricane Center 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook is forecasting an active to extreme active season this year.
Although there is no direct link between the number of Tropical Cyclones and impacts across Vermont…conventional wisdom would say “the more storms, the greater the chances” of being impacted. However, it ONLY takes one.
The overall tropical weather patterns of the last several years have been a more active one for the Northeast United States, similar to patterns experienced in the 1950s to early 1960s. In 2010, Hurricane Earl grazed the Carolina coast and threatened southern New England. In 2011, Hurricane Irene impacted much of the east coast with historical flooding in Vermont. Last year (2012), Super Storm Sandy severely impacted portions of the Northeast, but thankfully spared Vermont. Basically, be vigilant and be prepared EVERY hurricane season.
You can find more information at the following web sites: