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Climatologist Offers Flash Flood-Related Safety Tips

MANHATTAN, KAN. – Springtime means warmer weather and more outdoor activity, but also an increased possibility of severe weather and flash flooding.

“Flash floods are denoted by rapidly rising waters with little or no advance warning,” said Mary Knapp, state climatologist for Kansas. “Two key factors are rainfall rates and duration. As little as a quarter of an inch of rainfall can cause a flash flood if it falls quickly enough, so roads that you drive on every day can quickly become dangerous.”

Other important factors are topography, soil conditions, and ground cover, said Knapp, who directs the Kansas Weather Data Library, based at Kansas State University. She is a K-State delegate to the Extension Disaster Education Network http://www.eden.lsu.edu.

“Obviously, low lying areas are at greater risk for flooding and recurring rains on already saturated grounds increase the risk of flash flooding,” she said. “Finally, everyone should keep in mind that urbanization can increase runoff by two to five times what would occur with more natural ground cover. And streets can form fast-moving channels for that runoff.”

The NWS’ Topeka, Kan. office has declared March 12-16 as the 2012 Kansas Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Additional safety tips are available on the National Weather Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency websites: http://www.NWS.gov and http://www.FEMA.gov.

Information about Kansas weather is available on the Weather Data Library website:http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/wdl/.

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