National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Flooding kills more people than just about any weather-related hazard. Most deaths associated with floods occur either at night, or when people become trapped in automobiles that stall while driving in areas that are flooded. Floods can be divided into two general categories: flash floods and river floods. Both hold potential for causing death, injury and property destruction.

Flash Floods

Most flash floods are caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, or thunderstorms which move over the same area one right after the other. Flash floods generally occur within a short time period after a rain event - generally 6 hours or less. For this reason they are more life threatening. Areas most susceptible to flash flooding are mountainous streams and rivers, urban areas, low-lying area, storm drains, and culverts.

River Floods

This type of flood is caused by a gradual increase in water level of a river or creek. These floods occur seasonally with general rains, or with torrential rains associated with tropical storms - such as the flooding which occurred in south Georgia after Tropical storm Alberto in 1994.

The National Weather Service will issue a Flood Watch / Flash Flood Watch when conditions are detected that could result in flooding/flash flooding of a certain area. Persons in the watch area are advised to keep informed and be ready to take action if a warning is issued or flooding is observed. A River Flood Warning, or a Flash Flood Warning will be issued when flooding/flash flooding is imminent in a specific location. Persons in the warned areas are advised to take precautions immediately.



Safety Rules




  • First of all, remember ...
  • Do not drive through flooded areas especially at night when it is harder to gauge water depth. Consider the possibility that the roadway may have collapsed due to erosion. (You won't be able to tell, if the road is covered by water. You also might drive into a washout.)
  • If your vehicle stalls due to water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may sweep the vehicle and its occupants away.
  • Be familiar with the surrounding land features and be prepared to head for higher ground if necessary.
  • Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio and local radio and television for the latest statements, watches, and warnings concerning heavy rain and flash flooding.
  • "TADD" - Turn Around Don't DrownTM