NOAA 03-R299-59
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Delores Clark
12/8/03
NOAA News Releases 2003
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


DURING HAWAII WINTER WEATHER SEASON
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE URGES TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN

The downpours, rock slides, high surf, and snow on Mauna Kea over the Thanksgiving weekend are reminders that the Hawaii winter weather season is upon us. The National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reminds the public that exercising certain safety precautions can save lives during hazardous wet weather. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“October through April marks the Hawaiian wet season or Ho`oilo – the time of year that brings rejuvenating rains to the dry leeward areas of the islands following a normally dry summer,” said Kevin Kodama, Senior Hydrologist at the Honolulu Forecast Office“However, it is also a time of year when flash floods are most frequent statewide.”

Statistics compiled by the National Weather Service show 44 deaths in Hawaii attributable to flash flooding since 1960. Over half of these deaths involved people crossing flooded streams or driving through flooded roadways. The real tragedy in these figures lies in the fact that many of these deaths were preventable.

Turn Around, Don’t Drown are literally – words to live by. The slogan is the cornerstone of a nationwide flood safety public awareness campaign designed to help reduce flood-related deaths in the United States. NOAA’s National Weather Service is working with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) and other partners, to enhance public awareness of the dangers of driving or walking into flooded areas.

“Whether on foot or in a vehicle, do not attempt to cross flooded streams and roadways,” said Kodama. “Streams in Hawaii are notorious for their sudden rises in water level, going from a trickle to a raging torrent within a short period of time. But these same streams also recede in a relatively short period of time, often within a few hours of flash flood onset. It only takes two feet of moving water to float most vehicles and as little as six inches to knock someone off their feet. If we can reach people with the simple message ‘Turn Around, Don’t Drown’ – we will save lives.”

Colorful posters, depicting the Turn Around, Don’t Drown slogan on a barrier blocking access to a flooded roadway, and small (4" x 4") automobile window stickers were created for the campaign. The image will also appear on the Flooding Safety card in the Alliance’s FLASH Cards weather safety package distributed to and through its participating partners in government, the insurance industry and the non-profit community.

The poster, a Turn Around, Don’t Drown sign, window sticker, FLASH card and a NOAA National Weather Service flood safety brochure are also available online at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/tadd/index.htm. A Hawaii pamphlet is available at: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/pages/wxsafety.php. Visitors are encouraged to download, re-produce and distribute the images through community civic organizations, schools, government agencies or private businesses.

NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national security.

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit http://www.noaa.gov.

Detailed safety information about preparing for and dealing with weather-related disasters is available online at both FLASH and NOAA’s National Weather Service Web sites, http://www.flash.org and http://www.srh.weather.gov.

Turn Around, Don’t DrownTM is a Trademark used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service.