Southern California has had a higher than average rainfall this winter and with the rain comes trouble:
While heavy rain and flash flooding is uncommon for our local region, when those storms do come – as we have seen during February’s rains – the consequences can range from heavy traffic with accidents to property damage from flooding. With the fires many areas experienced in 2016, hillsides are now unstable and this promotes the possibility of landslides, mud flows and boulders in the road.
While state and local officials from the weather service and other agencies continue to warn people of dangers from moving water, there is a curiousity factor that brings certain people during major storms – while still others just continue to ignore the warnings.
Why it is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters
Most people underestimate the force and power of moving water. According to the National Weather Service, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50% of all flood-related drownings occur from a vehicle being driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths comes from people walking into or near flood waters.
Did you know that a mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult?
Twelve inches of rushing water can carry away a small car while 24 inches of rushing water will carry away almost any type of vehicle.
Many of the deaths from drowning occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.
When a major storm with rainfall has occurred, motorists and hikers should be extra vigilant. Here are some safety tips from the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management that will help keep you safe through the winter’s rains:
• Listen to the local radio stations or watch television for warnings about storm and/or heavy rainfall in your area regarding emergency public information and instructions.
• Be aware of any sudden increase or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris mudflow upstream. A trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
• Look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
• Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudflow.
• Be alert when driving. Roads may become blocked or closed due to collapsed pavement or debris.
• If a landslide and/or debris flow occurs, danger is imminent, quickly move away from the path of the slide. Getting out of the path of the slide and/or debris mudflow is your best protection. Move to the nearest high ground in a direction away from the path. If rocks and debris are approaching, run to the nearest shelter and take cover.
• If your property is damaged or compromised, consult a professional geotechnical expert for advice on the landslide and or corrective actions you and your loved ones can take.
By using caution and staying off the roads during heavy rains, you can avoid the increased risk of being involved in an accident this winter.
Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” writes marketing, public relations and communications materials, helping businesses gain more visibility. Pat is a business consultant, ghostwriter, and a contributing writer to the Crescenta Valley Weekly. For more info, go to: www.writerpatkramer.com.