Motorists stranded in high water during last night’s storm in Maryland serves as a reminder of nature’s fury.
Driving conditions could become treacherous during the afternoon and evening commute in areas just north of Washington, D.C. A Flash flood warning has been issued for Montgomery, Howard, Carroll and Frederick counties until 4:45 p.m. Flash floods can destroy lives, wipe out bridges and buildings, and sweep away vehicles and trees. Accordingly, AAA Mid-Atlantic is advising motorists to take special precautions.
“Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are auto-related,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Rapidly rising waters can easily become fast-moving torrents of extraordinary and incessant power and they can easily sweep motorists and their vehicles away in just a matter of a few seconds.”
“As a reminder of quickly conditions can deteriorate and things can get out of control, several motorists found themselves stranded last night in Owings Mills last evening when they encountered flooded streets and tried to pass through not realizing the depth of the water, which was nearly four feet high in some areas,” Townsend observed.
“They were fortunate,” Townsend added. “Many deaths have been caused when motorists attempt to move their stalled vehicle on flooded roads.
Put simply, a flash flood warning means flash flooding is imminent or has been reported. That means people in the area, including drivers, should take necessary precautions at once, the auto club forewarns.
“A flash flood can occur in a matter of minutes,” Townsend cautioned. “In these conditions motorists need to be cognizant of the hazards associated with driving when streets can become swift moving rivers. Drivers and their passengers need to pay careful attention to weather-related warnings and road conditions as well.”
If flood waters begin to rise around your car, get out and move quickly to higher ground, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic. Just six inches of water can enter your car and cause your engine to stall. A foot of water can make your car float – and two feet can sweep it away.
In case of flash flooding, here are some tips:
- Do not drive through flooded areas.
- Avoid driving into water of unknown depth.
- Be careful of standing and running water. As little as six inches of water on a road can cause most drivers to lose control of their vehicle.
- Do not drive through moving water or flooded areas.
- Keep your eyes peeled for signs of flooding at highway dips, bridges, and low-lying areas.
- If there is a risk of flash flood, avoid traveling on roads that run along rivers and creeks.
- If you see a flooded-out road ahead, turn around. Find another route to your destination.
- Flooding can scour away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground beneath.
- If there is no other route, get to higher ground and wait for the waters to subside.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
- Be prepared to evacuate, if warned by authorities.
- Never try to cross a flooding stream on water where the water is above your knees.
- Tune to area radio and television stations and NOAA weather radio for update.
“Nearly half of all people who die in flash floods are in cars and have underestimated the power of flood waters or have not acted quickly enough to escape,” Townsend noted. “Even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, don’t try it. Water hides dips in the road. Worse yet, there may be no road at all under the water.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic has nearly four million members in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It provides a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through its 50-plus retail branches, regional operations centers, and the Internet. For more information, please visit our web site at www.AAA.com.