NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: The video above is the full version of a special report that aired in February of 2023.
It's Severe Weather Awareness Week in Virginia right now, and today we're talking about a weather event that most Hampton Roads residents are quite familiar with.
Flooding occurs when there is an overflowing of a large amount of water beyond its normal confines.
A flash flood happens to be the most dangerous kind. This specific type of flooding occurs in a short time frame after a precipitation event. It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm, or by meltwater from ice or snow.
It may also occur when dams or levees break. It combines the destructive power of a flood with intense speed and is exacerbated by paved surface and already saturated soils.
When more rainfall lands in an area than the ground can absorb, or it falls in areas with a lot of hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt that prevent the ground from absorbing the precipitation, the water has few places to go and can rise very quickly.
This is a major reason why highly populated areas are at a high risk for flash floods.
Did you know that it only takes as little as six inches of fast-moving water to knock you off your feet or to sweep away a single vehicle off of the road?
In fact, each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related disaster, according to the National Weather Service.
So, turn around don’t drown and stay out of flooded areas. We should never underestimate the power of water.
If you ever find yourself in an area that has just been issued a Flood Warning or Flash Flood Warning, these are the steps you should take:
- Move to higher ground.
- Follow instructions from public safety officials.
- If you must evacuate your home, take only essential items and bring your pets if safe to do so.
As sea levels continue to rise, cities and communities are looking for solutions.
In January, the state of Virginia gave the city of Norfolk $24 million for their Coastal Flooding Protection Project.
The project is part of the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Plan, an estimated 10-year, $2.3 billion initiative to protect the city from coastal flooding and damage caused by major storm events.
However, some smaller, more rural communities within the area struggle to access similar resources.
Click here to read our special report on "The Sinking ZIP Code," which focuses on flooding, sea level rise and its impact on the Guinea community of Gloucester County.