National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Flash floods occur suddenly and usually within hours of excessive heavy rainfall. Flash floods become raging torrents of water, ripping through neighborhoods, streets, valleys, etc. sweeping away whatever is in their path. Flash floods can also occur with a dam or levee failure. Heavy rain should be a signal that alerts you to the possibility of dangerous flood conditions.




issued when conditions look favorable for flash flooding. A WATCH usually encompasses several counties. This is the time to start thinking about your plan of action and where you would go if the water begins to rise.



Flash Flood WARNING
issued when dangerous flash flooding is happening or will happen soon. A WARNING is usually a smaller, more specific area. This can be issued due to excessive heavy rain or a dam/levee failure. This is when you must act quickly as flash floods are an imminent threat to you and your family. You may only have seconds to move to higher ground.



issued for the EXCEEDINGLY RARE situations when extremely heavy rain is leading to a severe threat to human life and CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE from a flash flood is happening or will happen soon. Typically, emergency officials are reporting LIFE-THREATENING water rises resulting in water rescues/evacuations.





River flooding occurs when heavy rain and runoff fill the river basins with water too quickly. Do you live along a creek or river? Find the local river observations and flood forecasts on our webpage!




River Flood and Flash Flood Safety Rules:

During periods of heavy rains, stay away from flood-prone areas such as stream beds, drainage ditches, and culverts.


Move to higher ground if flooding threatens your area.


If you live or work in flood-prone areas, remain alert during periods of heavy rain.


Be especially cautious at night as it is harder to recognize flood dangers.



Never drive your car into water of unknown depth. Most flash flood deaths occur when people drive their vehicles into flood waters. Remember: Turn Around Don't Drown!!


If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Flood water may rise quickly, cover the vehicle and sweep it away.


Stay out of flooded areas. The water may still be rising and very swift. A rapidly flowing stream can sweep you off your feet and sweep your vehicle downstream.



Children are especially vulnerable and should not be allowed to play in or around flowing water.


Water can run off streets and parking lots rapidly, causing natural and man-made drainage systems to overflow with flood waters.


Flood waters can hide rocks, trees, trash, and other debris that can be dangerous to someone in their path.


Water is a very powerful force and should NEVER be underestimated.




Additional Information

     Flash Flood Safety

     Turn Around, Don't Drown Campaign
     YouTube - Flash Food Safety (ASL/CC)
     YouTube - Flood Safety: Wireless Emergency Alerts
     YouTube - Turn Around Don't Drown Campaign MUST WATCH!

     Historical Floods