A flash flood occurs within a few hours (usually less than six hours) of heavy or excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or the sudden release of water impounded by an ice jam. Localized flash flooding is a common occurrence during spring and summertime thunderstorms.
A flood is the inundation of a normally dry area caused by abnormal high water flow. Floods develop more slowly than flash floods, normally greater than six hours. Coastal flooding can occur when winds over the Chesapeake Bay are blowing in the northerly and/or westerly direction, thus pushing water up the Bay and causing water levels to rise along the shore. Inland flooding (also called areal or riverine flooding) occurs as a result of a heavy rain event and/or from rapidly melting snow.
Flash floods and floods are the #1 cause of deaths associated with thunderstorms, more than 90 fatalities each year.
More than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.
Many flash flood fatalities occur at night.
Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickups.
Flash flood safety rules:
Avoid driving, walking, or swimming in flood waters.
Stay away from high water, storm drains, ditches, ravines, or culverts. Even moving water only 6inches deep can knock you off your feet. Move to higher ground.
Do not let children play near storm drains.
If you come upon a flooded roadway never drive through it. Make sure you "turn around, don't drown."
Protect your property before the storm. Dangerous or damaging floods don’t always mean dramatic, rushing waters through the streets of your hometown. County officials encourage homeowners to get flood insurance because the rates are favorable, and the policy will cover losses from flooding when homeowner coverage will not take care of damage resulting from river or coastal flood events. If you decide flood insurance is something you need, apply immediately as it takes 30 days for a policy to take effect. Both homeowners and renters are eligible for flood insurance.
For more information, contact the Department of Emergency Services at 410-638-4900 or the Department of Planning and Zoning at 410-638-3103.