GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Powerful storms have dumped several inches of rain on different parts of the country, causing some severe flooding. Even though we are starting to see nice weather here in the Grand Valley, floods can strike quickly. Monday kicked off National Flood Safety Awareness week. The goal is to educate people on the destructive force of water and that flooding can happen anywhere, even here in the Grand Valley.
The topography and soil of the Grand Valley makes it a prime location for rising water levels. "This area is more prone to flash flooding and we typically see that during the summer months," says Bryan Lawrence of the National Weather Service.
Summertime thunderstorms can dump a lot of rain in a short amount of time. Desert soils keep the water from soaking in, causing it to collect on the surface and travel downstream.
That is exactly what happened to Wesley Hirsh just last year. "The water really came over the corner and washed out part of the walkway," say Hirsh. His backyard is along the Salt Wash in Fruita. A quick thunderstorm moved through and did a lot of damage. "It took out part of the creek and part of the bank," he says. Even though it looked like a major flood moved through, it really wasn't that much water. "I'm sure at least a foot or better of water," says Hirsh.
One of the biggest dangers of flash flooding is the force of just a little bit of water. "As little as six inches of water can knock a person off their feet and as little as 15 inches of water can pick up a vehicle and wash it down the street," says Lawrence.
Another danger is the false feeling of security. Flash flood waters can travel long distances, so even if it's sunny and clear where you're hiking, doesn't always mean you're out of danger. "It could have rained up to 20 miles away from you and that water could be traveling towards you without you even knowing it," says Lawrence.
If you find yourself cut off from a trail by rushing waters, or see water crossing a street, never try to cross. "Turn around, don't drown, do not attempt to walk across it or drive across it," says Lawrence. Instead, wait for the water to recede. Typically it only takes a couple of hours for things to get back to normal, so people can enjoy nature once again.
Flooding causes more damage in the U.S. than any other severe weather related event, averaging around $5 billion a year. Click on the link below for more information under 'Related Links'.