Everything you need to know about flood alerts

Weather Stories

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With all the heavy rain and consequent flooding we’ve been dealing with this week, you’ve probably had a vast amount of flood alerts sent to your devices.

It can be overwhelming and a touch confusing if you’re not familiar with the different alerts. Let’s break it down for you.

Alerts are issued for flash flooding, widespread areal flooding, or river flooding.

Similar to severe weather alerts, flood alerts also have a watch and warning criteria. If a Flood Warning or Flash Flood Warning has been issued for your area, that means flooding is imminent or occurring and you need to take action now.

If you’re in a low-lying or flood-prone area, move to higher ground.

A Flash Flood or Flood Watch is when conditions are favorable for flooding.

So a watch means flooding is possible in the warned area, but not for certain. When a watch is issued, you need to be prepared to take action and make sure you have a flood plan in place.

Another term to familiarize yourself with is areal flooding. Areal flooding develops over time and is usually from prolonged or persistent rainfall. In contrast, flash flooding usually occurs within six hours of moderate or heavy rain.

You may also hear the CBS 17 Storm Team talk about river flooding. Separate alerts are issued for rivers.

We also have flood advisories. Those are typically issued for flooding that is a nuisance but does not pose a significant threat to life or property.

Here are a few tips to remember when flooding is in the forecast.

  • If outside, head to higher ground
  • Avoid any drainage areas, rivers, creeks or streams
  • Use extra caution when out at night

And always remember, whether a flood alert is in effect or not, never walk or drive through flooded areas. Turn around, don’t drown.

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