Colorado has more than its fair share of floods, flash floods, and wildfires. Last year was particularly devastating, with numerous wildfires and many areas experiencing floods. During the past week, in our effort to build a Weather-Ready nation, we have presented information to you on how to stay safe and minimize property damage during flood and wildfire threats.
When a flash flood warning is issued for your area, you need to quickly move to higher ground out of drainages or other low spots. It may be just a short run or climb to that higher ground.
Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities occur in vehicles. Do not drive through a flooded roadway. Instead turn around, do not drown. The water may be much deeper than you think because it may not be possible to see below the surface of flood waters that the roadway has been washed away. One to two feet of water will carry away most vehicles. Additional flood safety information can be found at www.floodsafety.noaa.gov.
Areas burned by wildfires are highly susceptible to flash floods, especially within the first two or three years after the wildfire has occurred. Wildfires by themselves destroy much property and occasionally result in fatalities within Colorado. There are actions you can take to protect yourself and minimize the wildfire threat to your property.
If you live near or within a forest or rangeland you are encouraged to make a defensible space around your home and other structures. Information on how to make a defensible space around your home can be found on the Colorado State Forest Service website at http://csfs.colostate.edu/pages/defensible-space.html.
River flooding from snowmelt or persistent rainfall can cause extensive damage to property. There are estimated to be 65,000 homes and 15,000 commercial, industrial and business structures in identified floodplains within Colorado. FEMA has online maps that show if you are in a flood risk area. To access those maps go to https://msc.fema.gov.
If you live in a flood prone area, buying flood insurance is the best thing you can do to protect your home, your business, your family and your financial security. To find an insurance agent and obtain other flood insurance information, go to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program web site at www.floodsmart.gov. As a reminder there is generally a 30-day waiting period from the time a flood insurance policy is purchased to when it goes into effect.
Additional information on floods and wildfires is available from your local National Weather Service web sites.
Preparedness and safety tips are available on floods, wildfires and other hazards in Colorado on the Colorado Division of Homeland Security’s community preparedness website: www.READYColorado.com. Information is also posted daily on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/READYColorado and on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/READYColorado.
This blog was written by Jim Pringle, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, WFO Grand Junction