FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Randee Exler
WEATHER SERVICE ISSUES ANNUAL FLOOD OUTLOOK
While most of the nation is off the hook for a heightened threat of flooding this spring, flooding can and will happen. "Be aware and be prepared," is the message National Weather Service Director John J. Kelly Jr. took to the public as NOAA officials unveiled the annual spring flooding outlook today.
"People often think that weather-related deaths are only caused by severe storms like tornadoes or hurricanes, but in reality, more deaths are caused by floods," said Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley, in warning Americans to be aware of the dangers of flooding. "I urge all Americans to use caution when traveling and to pay attention to weather service warnings. I commend the weather service for its efforts to alert the American public on the dangers of flooding."
"There is greater than average potential this spring for flooding in Oregon and Washington east of the Cascades due to snow melt. Other areas with heightened flood potential are in Idaho and adjacent streams in Oregon and Montana, North Dakota's Red River Basin, which suffered record floods in 1997, and Devil's Lake in North Dakota, a closed drainage system that has steadily risen since 1993," reported Frank Richards, head of the NWS Hydrologic Information Center.
"In contrast," Richards said, "dryer than average conditions this spring may result in water concerns for southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah, western Texas and Hawaii."
The rest of the nation will see conditions that are typical of those experienced during an average spring for local areas, according to Richards.
"Don't be complacent. There's no time like a sunny day to prepare for a flood," Kelly said. "Every spring, short-lived downbursts cause flash floods. This type of rapid onset, localized flooding can even strike areas that are considered extremely dry." Flash flooding, common in late spring and summer, causes more than three-quarters of all flood fatalities. Annually, the nation experiences an average of 100 flood-related fatalities.
"The nation's spring flood potential
is consistent with a La
Niña pattern," said Richards. La Niña,
the climatic opposite of El
Niño, is characterized by cooler than normal sea-
surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean that impact
global weather patterns.
"If you see water covering the road ahead--especially in low-lying areas--turn around and find another route," said Kelly. "The popular image of a vehicle splashing through water is a dangerous one."
Kelly noted that more skillful forecasters and new technology such as Doppler radar, weather satellites, advanced computer models, and widespread observation systems make flood prediction more timely and accurate than ever before.
"Our warnings mean nothing if they
are not received or if people don't take appropriate action,"
the National Weather Service director said. He urged Americans
to purchase NOAA Weather
Radios that receive weather and warning information 24 hours
a day and develop family flood safety plans.
The nation's spring flood potential can be monitored through the National Weather Service's Hydrologic Information Center Web site at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hic/nho/index.shtml
Additional information can be found on
the following Web sites: