Rainy Weather Raises the Importance of Flood Safety on the Road

Over the past week, Mother Nature has made her presence known throughout the nation. Here in northwest Florida, we have been hit by a series of storms that began last Friday and continued well into this week. Like our neighbors, members of the team at our Panama City accident law firm have watched the rainfalls and worried about getting around safely. These storms serve as an opportunity to discuss the important topic of flood safety.

Storms Overwhelm Waterways and Floods Close Area Roads

The News Herald reported that the rains caused many local rivers to overflow their banks. As the floodwaters spread onto area roadways, safety officials closed streets. In just one example, North Bear Creek Road in Bay County was closed for a period after waters overwhelmed North Bear Creek Bridge. The closures hit communities across our region including areas of Bay, Holmes, Washington, Jackson, and Walton counties. Observers recorded a number of rivers exceeding flood stage, including the Choctawhatchee (measured at 17.84 feet by the State 20 bridge, flood stage is 13 feet, forecasted to hit) and the Chipola (measured at 25.62 feet near Altha, flood level is 22 feet). These numbers were recorded mid-week and forecasters suggested the rivers would peak a bit higher.

Safe Driving Tips for Flood Conditions

Flooding is a serious threat to safe driving. The danger grows when repeated storms saturate the ground and overwhelm waterways. Additional threats can stem from damaged or broken dams/levees or as a result of snowmelt. While safety officials try to stay on top of the biggest danger zones, closing roads and diverting traffic, they cannot be at every flood site, so drivers must be prepared. Here are some important facts and flood safety tips, adapted from The Weather Channel's flood fact sheet:

  • Flash floods can occur without warning and can strike quickly. Awareness and preparedness is key.
  • Unless travelling is absolutely necessary, do not drive during severe weather or when officials warn of potential flooding conditions.
  • Never drive through a flooded area. Even if the waters appear shallow, turn around and find an alternate route. Water may be higher than it appears due to dips in the roads, and floods can scour away road surfaces, meaning there may not be solid ground beneath the water.
  • If no alternate route is available, move to higher ground and stay put until the waters subside.
  • If your car stalls, leave it and get to higher ground. You are more important than your vehicle.

There are some important, general facts about water depth: it takes only six inches of water to hit the bottom of a typical passenger car, threatening a loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will cause most vehicles to float. Two feet of moving water can sweep away an automobile, even a larger vehicle such as a pick-up or SUV.

A Message from your Panama City Safe Driving Law Firm

We hope all of our clients and the other members of our community exercise caution and travel safely during the stormy weather and in future wet periods. Remember that other drivers may not always be aware of wet weather driving safety, or they may take an "it won't happen to me" approach to accident avoidance. If you've been involved in a crash in northwest Florida and believe someone else's negligence contributed to the collision (though it needn't be the only cause), please call to arrange a no-cost consultation with our Panama City car accident injury lawyer.

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