Spring time in West Texas is known for warmer weather, budding flowers, and of course, thunderstorms. Spring storms are most known for the severe threats they bring like hail and tornadoes, but another issue that *seems* less worrisome is the potential for flooding. This is actually that severe weather threat that causes the most deaths each year in the United States which is why it is so important to know the differences in each flood type.
Senior service hydrologist and meteorologist at the Lubbock National Weather Service, John Lipe, describes the differences between the flooding products that they issue. “A Flood Advisory is typically a nuisance flooding. In all of the southwest are streets or storm sewers. So you only need a quarter of an inch of rain, up to an inch, and you’re going to have street flooding because that’s where the water goes to get to the playa, to run off.” A Flood Advisory is the least severe type of flooding product.
A step up from the Flood Advisory is the Flood Warning. Lipe explains. “The Areal Flood Warning is kind of the intermediate product. The difference between that and the Flash Flood Warning is that the Flash Flood Warning is generally for life threatening flooding. A Flood Warning is a lot more widespread and impacts your flow of traffic through town in a significant way. But because we don’t have channels, your car is typically not going to get washed off the road, and that’s when you issue a Flash Flood Warning if people are going to be swept off the road.”
A Flash Flood Warning is the most serious and life-threatening type of flooding because it can come out of nowhere. Here on the South Plains, Flash Flood Warnings don’t typically get issued that often because of the lack of topography here. However, as nighttime sets in and the threat for flooding continues, then a Flash Flood Warning will most likely be issued.
Of course if you come across flooding, Lipe says to avoid driving through it. “If you don’t feel like you know the depth of what that water is typically around here, don’t drive into it. For several reasons. First, you may stall your car out. Second, even if you go through it, the water gets into your bearings and the lower components of your engine and everything, and it causes damage whether you realize it or not. Typically with flooding around here, especially in town, you can avoid those heavily flooded intersections by driving through a neighborhood and just get around it. But don’t drive in areas where water covers the road to an unknown depth.”