It's Flood Safety Awareness Week in the United States. Floods can be a threat at any time of the year, including now with melting snow. Tens of millions of dollars have been caused by flooding in Upper Michigan over the last decade. Upper Michigan has many small bodies of water that are susceptible to flooding. The Chocolay River, for example, is small enough to flood with a relatively small amount of added water. If you're living or spending time in a flood-prone location, there are some rules you should follow. "Don't camp right on a river if you're expecting rainfall or thunderstorms. Own a NOAA Weather Radio so you know if there are any warnings issued for your area," says Justin Titus, a meteorologist at the Marquette National Weather Service office.
If you find yourself in a flooded area while driving, the rule goes "Turn around, don't drown." "Obviously, whenever a road is flooded, you don't want to drive through it. Out of the nearly 100 flood-related deaths yearly, most of those are from people driving into flooded roadways, and their car just gets washed downstream," Titus says. Thunderstorms are a common cause of flooding and flash flooding in the summer. This time of year, however, rapid snow melt can be a cause, like it was back in 2002 in the western U.P. With recent temperatures consistently remaining well above average, there has been significant snow melt in the last several days. So is flooding a concern? "The flood threat for this spring is on the low side. We had a below normal snow pack, and it's melting off fairly slowly without much additional rain added to it to help it melt even faster," Titus adds. So for now, we seem to be in the clear, but the best way to remain safe from flooding all year is to be aware of surrounding bodies of water, and heed National Weather Service warnings when they're issued.
Follow this link to find more information on Flood Safety Awareness Week from the National Weather Service.