RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The National Weather Service (NWS) is improving ways to communicate Flash Flood Warnings more effectively to the public starting this month.
Usually, we don’t see flooding this time of the year. But as we get into the spring season and Flash Flood Warnings are issued, people will notice the changes.
When a Flash Flood Warning is issued, the format is now bulleted, so the information is easier to read and understand.
There are three categories to watch out for: the description of the flash flood hazard, the information source, and the impacts as far as what potentially could be impacted. The biggest change is how that information is given to the public.
Right now, anytime a Flash Flood Warning is issued, anyone within a distance of a cell phone tower is going to receive an alert saying there’s a Flash Flood Warning in that area.
With the changes, when the generic basic Flash Flood Warning is issued, your cell phone is not going to alert but the Emergency Alert System activation still occurs. Meaning, the information is still going out via NOAA weather radio, crawls, and over the air AM/FM radio. When it gets to the considerable and catastrophic tags, that will now trigger cell phone notifications.
Considerable flood events are very life-threatening and could possibly cause serious damage to property. Catastrophic events are violent flash floods that seriously threaten lives and cause disastrous damage. Both of those tags are interchangeable.
These format changes will reduce the number of alerts sent to cell phones. At that point, when a Flash Flood Warning is issued, people need to understand that the flooding is life-threatening and need to take action immediately.
Flooding is probably the biggest threat to lives in the U.S. and these warnings should be taken very seriously when issued. Causes include heavy rain, river ice or debris jams, and dam failure. And never drive into a flooded roadway or around a barricade.