The Texas Department of Public Safety urges motorists to beware of flood conditions.
If you see water running across a roadway, you should immediately turn around and not attempt to go through it, the DPS advises.
“Many cars will float in only 12 inches of water, and two feet of rushing water will carry off pick-ups, SUVs and most other vehicles,” said Col. Thomas A. Davis Jr., director of the DPS. “Six inches of water can be enough to stall a car or cause a loss of control over the vehicle.”
Each year, more people die in flash flooding than in any other type of thunderstorm-related hazard.
“You might think that you can easily get across a flooded roadway, but it’s not worth the risk. It’s impossible to tell the depth of the water - or whether the road or bridge is damaged or missing. Don’t endanger yourself or the first responders who may try to rescue you,” Davis said.
Bottom line: Stay aware and cautious, especially at night, when recognizing dangers can be more difficult. Pay attention to the weather and the road conditions.
Remember: “Turn around, don’t drown,” advises the DPS, which is joined by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens in urging Texans to exercise extreme caution in low-lying areas, around lakes and reservoirs and at stream and river crossings as rain continues to fall across a broad swath of North and Central Texas.
“There’s probably not enough caution tape in the world to mark all the areas people shouldn’t be in right now,” said TPWD Lt. Jennifer Kemp.
Game wardens warned that there are many ways for people to get into trouble in floodwaters.
“For some, it might just be a matter of where you live. If you get an evacuation order from the county, or even if you simply feel like you might be in danger, get out,” said Col. Pete Flores, TPWD law enforcement division director. “Others may want to head down to the local lake or creek to see what the water’s doing. You may think you know how deep the water is or what the ground beneath the water looks like, but floods create washouts and move things around. Our advice: Don’t wade into the water at all.”
Other dangers cited by game wardens include:
Debris washed into area lakes (a particular danger for boaters) Displaced wildlife, including venomous snakes High levels of bacteria in flood waters Dangerous currents in previously placid swimming holes
“We’ve all heard ‘turn around, don’t drown’ when it comes to low-water crossings,” Flores said. “That’s no joke, and I can’t say strongly enough that people should not attempt to drive through water flowing over roadways.”
For game wardens in North and Central Texas, water safety has taken on new meaning since the drowning death of game warden Ty Patterson. Patterson and his partner were searching for a missing girl on the Paluxy River, then flooding, when their boat capsized.
“We are all too familiar with the power of the water and its ability to take a life,” said Kemp, who worked with Patterson. “That’s something that stays with us every day.”
On the Net:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (National Weather Service) hydrological Web site: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ahps/
LCRA updates: http://www.lcra.org/index.html
USACE facility closure update: http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/drought/drought.htm
U.S. Geological Service Web site for real-time tracking of flood conditions: http://water.usgs.gov/waterwatch/?m=flood&w=map&r=tx