NOAA 2000-051
Contact: Bob Chartuk

Unveil New Public Service Announcement at Lowe's Motor Speedway

Charlotte, N.C. - Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series Champion Darrell Waltrip is teaming with federal weather experts to prevent motorists from driving across flooded roadways. The group will unveil a special public service video this week at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.

According to NOAA's National Weather Service, floods are responsible for more deaths each year than any other weather-related phenomena, and of these fatalities, about half (more than 50 annually) are caused when people try to drive through flooded roadways.

"If I can help the National Weather Service prevent even one flood-related death, I'd consider this public service effort a great success," said Waltrip, whose 30-second video is being made available via satellite to TV stations across the country today.

"Water can be deceptive, especially at night, and all it takes is a few inches to cause a crash or carry your car or truck downstream," Waltrip cautions the viewer. "Take it from me. Protect your family. Steer clear of flooded areas."

"Our message here is simple. It only takes six inches of running water to sweep you off your feet or make you lose control of your car or truck. Motorists should respect the power of running water and play it safe by steering clear of flooded roadways. Unfortunately, each year countless drivers make the wrong choice and take a chance by crossing flooded roads, instead of simply turning around and finding a safe route," said Scott Gudes, NOAA's deputy under secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere.

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is the parent agency of the National Weather Service and has environmental satellite and ocean data divisions that team with the weather service to monitor and predict the nation's weather and climate.

"The more air time Darrell Waltrip's video receives, the more people we can reach with this important public safety message," said NWS Deputy Director John Jones, also on hand to unveil the public service video.

"I'm calling on my friends in the media to help us air this flood safety announcement," Waltrip said, noting that U.S. radio stations will receive an audio version of the tape.

According to Jones, the U.S. experienced 24,605 flash floods over the last ten years causing about 130 fatalities each year. "Of these fatalities, 52 percent were vehicle related," said Jones, who noted that the weather service provided warning of these floods with an average lead time of 43 minutes over the last five years.