Severe Weather Handbook Topic 3: Flood Safety

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – In conjunction with Severe Weather Awareness Week in West Virginia, the third topic of attention is flood safety.

2016 Floods in Kanawha County, WV WOWK image

Flooding is one of the deadliest weather events in our region ranging from incidents with people driving into flood waters and being swept away to major flood emergencies like the 2016 storms that raged from Clendenin to Richwood to White Sulphur Springs that killed more than two dozen residents.

Richwood, WV flooding 2016 – WOWK image

Much like tornadoes the key information is to first gauge the risk and know the difference between a watch and a warning.

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Next, once a warning is issued, it may seem like common sense to simply seek higher ground but there are a lot of gray areas where water may only look like it’s over a part of the road or it might be an area where you can safely jump across. 

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It only takes a few inches of water to sweep you off your feet, only 12 inches to move a vehicle and you simply can’t see water at night.

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The key to reducing injuries and deaths is to recognize that the unknown is far more of a risk than simply staying put on dry land, or turning around and heading for higher ground. 

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Outside of the large one-time tragic events like 2016, the most common flood related type of death involves people in vehicles who are swept away. There have even been cases we have reported on in years past where someone was simply swept a short distance into a relatively shallow ditch filled with water and they couldn’t escape.

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Like any other storm warning, have multiple ways to receive the information including the StormTracker 13 weather app.  Enable location services and enable alerts and you’ll have one more way to get the info you need to make the right decisions when it floods to keep safe.  The app can be found for free at

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