July 8, 2024

Above Normal Flood Alert

An above normal flood alert is a warning issued by meteorological and environmental agencies to inform the public about the potential for higher-than-average water levels in rivers, streams, and other water bodies. This alert is typically triggered when forecasts indicate an increased risk of flooding due to various factors, such as heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt, or a combination of both.

When an above normal flood alert is issued, it means that water levels are expected to rise significantly above their normal levels, potentially causing inundation in low-lying areas, riverbanks, and flood plains. These alerts are crucial for communities living near water bodies, as they provide valuable time to prepare and take necessary precautions to minimize the impact of potential flooding.

The severity of an above normal flood alert can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the anticipated water levels. Authorities may issue different alert levels, such as a flood watch, flood warning, or flood emergency, based on the likelihood and expected magnitude of the flooding event.

Causes of Above Normal Flood Alerts

Several factors can contribute to the issuance of an above normal flood alert:

  1. Heavy Rainfall: Prolonged or intense periods of rainfall can overwhelm the capacity of rivers, streams, and drainage systems, leading to rapid water accumulation and an increased risk of flooding.
  2. Snowmelt: In regions with significant snowpack during the winter months, a sudden and rapid melting of snow due to warmer temperatures can cause a surge of water into rivers and streams, potentially leading to flooding.
  3. Storm Surges: Coastal areas may experience above normal flood alerts due to storm surges, which are abnormally high water levels caused by strong winds and low atmospheric pressure associated with hurricanes or other intense storms.
  4. Dam Failures or Releases: In some cases, the failure or controlled release of water from dams can contribute to above normal flood alerts downstream.
  5. Blocked Drainage Systems: Obstructions or blockages in drainage systems, such as culverts or storm drains, can impede the flow of water and increase the risk of localized flooding during heavy rainfall events.

Impact of Above Normal Flood Alerts

Above normal flood alerts can have significant impacts on communities and the environment:

  1. Property Damage: Flooding can cause extensive damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure, leading to costly repairs or even the loss of personal belongings and valuable assets.
  2. Disruption of Essential Services: Flooding can disrupt essential services such as water supply, electricity, and transportation, making it difficult for residents to access basic necessities and emergency services.
  3. Health Risks: Floodwaters can pose serious health risks, including the spread of waterborne diseases, contamination of drinking water sources, and the potential for injuries or drowning.
  4. Environmental Consequences: Flooding can lead to soil erosion, habitat destruction, and the displacement of wildlife, potentially causing long-term ecological impacts.
  5. Economic Losses: Businesses may experience disruptions, loss of inventory, and decreased productivity, resulting in significant economic losses for the affected communities.

Preparing for an Above Normal Flood Alert

When an above normal flood alert is issued, it is crucial to take proactive steps to prepare for potential flooding:

  1. Stay Informed: Monitor local news, weather reports, and official alerts from authorities to stay updated on the situation and any changes in the flood risk.
  2. Develop an Emergency Plan: Create an emergency plan for your household, including evacuation routes, emergency contacts, and a designated meeting place for family members.
  3. Prepare an Emergency Kit: Assemble an emergency kit with essential supplies, such as non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, medications, and important documents.
  4. Protect Your Property: Take steps to protect your property by moving valuable items to higher ground, securing outdoor furniture and equipment, and clearing debris from gutters and drainage systems.
  5. Acquire Sandbags: If available, obtain sandbags and place them around your property to help divert water flow and prevent flooding.
  6. Stay Vigilant: Be prepared to evacuate if instructed by local authorities, and never attempt to walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters.

Steps to Take During an Above Normal Flood Alert

If an above normal flood alert is in effect and flooding is imminent or already occurring, it is essential to take immediate action:

  1. Follow Official Instructions: Closely monitor and follow the instructions and guidance provided by local authorities, emergency services, and weather reports.
  2. Evacuate if Necessary: If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately and follow the designated evacuation routes. Never attempt to cross flooded areas or stay in areas at risk of flooding.
  3. Seek Higher Ground: If you cannot evacuate, move to the highest possible ground or the upper floors of a sturdy building, and avoid low-lying areas or basements.
  4. Avoid Floodwaters: Never attempt to walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters, as they can be deeper and swifter than they appear, and may contain hidden hazards or contaminants.
  5. Stay Away from Downed Power Lines: Floodwaters can dislodge or damage power lines, posing a risk of electrocution. Avoid any downed or exposed power lines and report them to the appropriate authorities.
  6. Protect Your Property: If time permits, take steps to protect your property by moving valuable items to higher ground, securing outdoor furniture and equipment, and sandbagging vulnerable areas.

Evacuation Procedures During an Above Normal Flood Alert

In the event of an evacuation order due to an above normal flood alert, it is crucial to follow the instructions provided by local authorities and emergency services:

  1. Evacuation Routes: Familiarize yourself with the designated evacuation routes and follow them carefully to avoid flooded areas or road closures.
  2. Evacuation Centers: Local authorities will establish evacuation centers or shelters where you can seek temporary refuge. Follow the instructions on where to go and what to bring.
  3. Pets and Livestock: Make arrangements for the safe evacuation of pets and livestock, as many evacuation centers may not accommodate animals.
  4. Communication: Keep your communication devices charged and stay tuned to local news and emergency alerts for updates on the situation and any changes to evacuation procedures.
  5. Assistance for Vulnerable Individuals: If you or someone you know requires special assistance during an evacuation, contact local authorities or emergency services in advance to make necessary arrangements.
  6. Documentation: Bring important documents, such as identification, insurance papers, and medical records, with you during an evacuation.

Safety Measures After an Above Normal Flood Alert

Even after the immediate threat of flooding has passed, it is essential to take precautions and follow safety measures:

  1. Avoid Flooded Areas: Floodwaters can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals, or debris, posing health risks. Avoid entering flooded areas until authorities have declared them safe.
  2. Inspect Your Property: Once it is safe to return, carefully inspect your property for any structural damage, downed power lines, or potential hazards before entering.
  3. Disinfect and Clean: If your property has been flooded, take steps to disinfect and clean affected areas to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
  4. Dispose of Contaminated Items: Discard any food, medication, or items that have come into contact with floodwaters, as they may be contaminated and pose health risks.
  5. Document Damage: Document any damage to your property by taking photographs or videos for insurance purposes and potential assistance programs.
  6. Seek Professional Help: If your property has sustained significant damage, seek the assistance of professionals, such as contractors, electricians, or plumbers, to ensure safe and proper repairs.

Resources and Support During an Above Normal Flood Alert

During and after an above normal flood alert, various resources and support services may be available to assist affected communities:

  1. Emergency Services: Contact local emergency services, such as fire departments, police, or emergency management agencies, for immediate assistance or to report any emergencies.
  2. Disaster Relief Organizations: Organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or local non-profit groups may provide temporary shelter, food, and other essential supplies to those affected by flooding.
  3. Government Assistance Programs: Federal, state, or local governments may offer assistance programs, such as grants, low-interest loans, or temporary housing, to help individuals and businesses recover from flood-related damages.
  4. Insurance Claims: Review your insurance policies and contact your insurance provider to initiate the claims process for any covered damages or losses.
  5. Mental Health Support: Dealing with the aftermath of a flood can be emotionally and mentally challenging. Seek support from counseling services or mental health professionals if needed.
  6. Volunteer Opportunities: Consider volunteering with local organizations to assist in relief efforts, cleanup, or rebuilding efforts in affected communities.

How to Stay Informed During an Above Normal Flood Alert

Staying informed is crucial during an above normal flood alert to ensure your safety and preparedness:

  1. Local News and Weather Reports: Monitor local news stations, weather channels, and online sources for the latest updates on the flood situation, forecasts, and any evacuation orders or instructions from authorities.
  2. Emergency Alert Systems: Subscribe to emergency alert systems, such as text message alerts, email notifications, or mobile apps, provided by local authorities or weather services.
  3. Social Media: Follow official social media accounts of local authorities, emergency services, and weather agencies for real-time updates and information sharing.
  4. Community Networks: Stay connected with your local community networks, such as neighborhood associations or online groups, to share information and support each other during the flood event.
  5. Radio Broadcasts: In case of power outages or disruptions to internet and cellular services, battery-powered radios can be a reliable source of information from local radio stations.
  6. Preparedness Websites: Visit websites of organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the National Weather Service for preparedness tips, safety guidelines, and resources related to flood alerts and emergencies.


Above normal flood alerts serve as crucial warnings for communities to take necessary precautions and prepare for potential flooding events. By understanding the causes, impacts, and proper response measures, you can significantly mitigate the risks and minimize the devastating consequences of flooding.

Remember, being prepared is key. Stay informed, develop an emergency plan, assemble essential supplies, and follow the instructions and guidance provided by local authorities. By taking proactive steps and remaining vigilant, you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property during an above normal flood alert.

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