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Safety Tips from the Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council

Flash Flooding

Flash flooding can occur anytime there are thunderstorms in the area. Nearly 90 percent of presidential disaster declarations are for flood related events. Since 1986, more than 100 flash floods have been recorded in the Kansas City area. Most were localized and resulted in flooded roads that made travel difficult. But flash floods on Sept. 12, 1977, and Oct. 4, 1998, resulted in a total of 37 fatalities and combined damage in excess of $100 million.

It is a virtual certainty that we will experience flash flooding again, so residents and businesses in flood-prone or flood-threatened areas and the general public who may drive or walk near flash flood threatened areas, should be prepared.
Flood facts

Before the flood

During a flash flood watch

During a flash flood warning or flood event

If inside:

If outside:

If in a car:

If advised to evacuate:

The warning system

The National Weather Service (NWS) is the nation's only flood warning agency. NWS advisories, watches and warnings are broadcast on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio and by regional and local media as they are issued, often before emergency officials are notified. The NWS may issue generic advisories, watches and warnings for "all rivers and streams in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area" or for specific rivers and streams if there is a forecast model. Local waterways with specific forecast models include the Missouri, Kansas and Blue rivers, and Brush and Turkey creeks. Be advised that actual conditions can be significantly different from those forecasted due to the variability of rainfall patterns, increases in impervious surfaces due to new development, and the amount of debris in the stream basin.

Local Emergency Management officials will also be monitoring local streams and will issue media advisories to amplify NWS warnings based on observed trends.

Residents are encouraged to share emergency information with neighbors and other flood plain residents, particularly those with special needs. If you know of a special needs resident requiring assistance, call 911.

One of the most effective warning systems during flash floods is National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio. Operated by the National Weather Service, weather radios provide important weather information 24 hours a day. Routine weather information is immediately interrupted whenever watches or warnings are issued. Certain radios can be programmed to alert you if a flash flood watch or warning is issued within the region. Some weather radios can be programmed to sound an alarm when a watch or warning is issued for a specific county. Weather radios can be purchased at most electronic outlets.


Floyd Peoples, Chief Fire Marshal, Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department, 816-784-9100
Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs Council, 9550 W. 95th St., Overland Park, Kan. 66212