Statistically, floods are the most devastating natural disasters.
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Ready or not, flood season is here. Heavy rain and snow showers are closing in on the Midwest and some regions, like the Red River Valley in western Minnesota, are already underwater. It's time to review these easy tips so you know what to do once the waters start to rise.
• A flashflood can arrive suddenly and unannounced as a result of a thunderstorm that is happening (or happened hours ago) many miles away, upstream or upslope, where the rain collects into natural channels and gathers strength as it roars downhill toward your location. You might be standing under blue sky when the flood arrives like an out-of-control freight train.
• Inland flooding along a coastal region can arrive as a secondary disaster that was caused by a hurricane or a tsunami that drives sea water miles inland.
• Relatively slow flooding can develop along waterways when snow melts or heavy rain occurs upstream. This type of flood is subject to sudden outbursts when ice jams or debris that has collected at choke points suddenly gives way, releasing a torrent.
• Structural failure, such as a dam break, can suddenly release a flood that can wipe out the area downstream.