No matter what time of year it is, drivers in Fort Collins and throughout Colorado are subjected to quite a few severe and extreme weather situations. Fort Collins automotive shops can repair your car, and help you with your vehicle needs in the aftermath of weather damage, but how do you react when caught in a flash flood? Chances are you have experienced some kind of severe weather, be it high winds or a sudden intense thunderstorm, perhaps even one of our notorious flash floods. These events are no respecters of persons, locations, or a particular time of day. Bad weather can and does occur everywhere, at anytime, and to anyone.
Your Fort Collins auto repair shop will advise you to keep a basic emergency kit in your car just for these situations, as well as have a familiarity with bad weather, and how to react when caught in an extreme weather condition. Fort Collins automotive services include keeping you as informed and safe as possible to prevent not only auto damage, but injury to yourself.
Not only does flooding occur from intense rainstorms and downpours, rivers, creeks, dams and lakes do occasionally overflow their banks during storms. In Colorado, we have numerous rivers and canyons. These rivers tend to flood during severe rain storms, and flood. In fact, our most recent disastrous flood in the Big Thompson Canyon is still being cleaned up. Even if you’re not driving in a canyon area, be aware of flooding potential. Whenever there is rainfall with significant duration and intensity, a flood is possible. As flooding is a not uncommon weather disaster experienced in Colorado, be prepared, and follow these tips:
- Flash floods happen rapidly and unexpectedly. Within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, they can happen. When a dam or levee fails or even a sudden release of water held by an ice or debris jams, the result is a flash flood.
- You probably won’t have much warning, if any, that a flash flood is approaching. The Weather Service, American Red Cross and several local entities will only get a short window of opportunity to alert people that a flood is occurring. Be aware of weather conditions, and if a thunderstorm or similar event is taking place, tune into your local radio for any notifications. The American Red Cross features a weather safety app to help people out in just these situations, it is worth downloading. You can access it here: American Red Cross. It helps people in areas prone to flooding with the ability to receive flood and flash flood watches and warning alerts based on their location from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The ap also provides a Red Cross location-based open shelters map, and preloaded content giving instant access to all safety information at anytime, even without reception or an Internet connection.
- If not in your car when the flood occurs, do not drive unless absolutely necessary.
- If you see a flooded road or intersection while driving, do not drive through it. Pull over,
and look for an alternate route. The weather channel and other Tv networks regularly show people driving through a flooded intersection, or bridge, or other motorway that is covered with water. These scenarios usually don’t end well. If there is no other route, get yourself to higher ground until the water subsides. Be aware that even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, it is a bad idea. Water hides and masks dips in the road, giving an illusion of nominal depth, when the actual flood area could be, and probably is, much deeper than it appears. And even worse, flood waters can tear away existing roadway, and rip deep grooves into an area. Not only may the roadway be gone underneath that water, a significant chunk of land could be gouged out by the water as well.
CC Image courtesy of Mykl i am via Flickr
- If you are driving in water, and your car stalls, abandon it. Get out of the vehicle andmove to high ground. Just six inches of water is enough to reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control or possible stalling. And, even more alarming, one foot of water is enough to float almost many vehicles, leading to a complete lack of control of your car. If you have a car with a higher carriage, like an SUV or pick up, two feet of water is all it takes to sweep away the vehicle send it bobbing.
If not experiencing a flash flood, but you are in weather that is extreme, and you are concerned that flooding will occur, or there are alerts on either your American Red Cross ap or radio for flooding, follow these guidelines:
- If you see a storm approaching, don’t try and outrun it. If you see a funnel cloud, or otherextreme weather, don’t try and outrun it. Generally, keep your wits about you. Extreme driving under a state of panic and extreme weather don’t mix well.
- Turn on your low beam headlights, and slow down. These two simple steps go a long way in both making more space between your car, and any cars ahead of you, allowing extra braking distance between vehicles. Be sure and allow that extra driving space for braking.
- Approach cross streets and intersections cautiously, other drivers will be as visually impaired as you are, also, this will allow you to spot a flooded area before inadvertently trying to drive through it.
- Treat traffic lights as stop signs.
- Stay in your car. If you need to pull over, remain in your vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers. If you can pull over, drive safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees that could fall on the vehicle, or attract lightning. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to lightning for it to present a danger.
- Avoid downed power lines, they most likely are still carrying electric charges, and could electrocute you or your vehicle.
After the storm, remove any broken glass or other debris from your vehicle. Contact your auto insurance agency, and set up an appointment with your Fort Collins auto repair provider