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Flash flooding kills: What to know about flash flooding that could save your life

At least 127 people die each year due to flash flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Editor's Note: 2018 Drone video captures dramatic rescue after a driver ignored flood barriers and was swept off into the woods. 

Flash flooding is the number one storm-related killer in the United States, according to the National Weather Service.  


At least 127 people die each year due to flash flooding. Why so many deaths? Often times, people think they can drive safely through a flooded road then realize they can’t which can become too late. 

Credit: WFMY News 2
Flash flooding safety tips

It takes just six inches of water to make it more difficult to control your vehicle. In fact, a vehicle can be swept away in 18 to 24 inches of water. That’s why you’ll hear meteorologists and emergency workers say, “TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!” 

Credit: Glen Gunter
Flooding on New Bowers road in Lexington.


A flash flood is a rapid rise of water along a stream or in a low-lying urban area. Flash flooding can result from slow-moving thunderstorms, from numerous thunderstorms which develop repeatedly over the same area, or from heavy rains associated with tropical cyclones. These floods may develop within minutes, depending on the intensity of the rainfall, the topography, soil conditions, and ground cover, according to the National Weather Service. 

Video rescue captured in 2018 as flooding hit in the Piedmont Triad


  • Remember to "TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!"
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
  • If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, then stay inside. If water is rising inside the vehicle, then seek refuge on the roof.
  • If trapped in a building, then go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising floodwater. Go onto the roof, only if necessary. Once there, then signal for help.
  • Stay away from high water, storm drains, ditches, ravines, or culverts.
  • 12 inches of water can carry away a small car.
  • 18 inches of water can wash away a vehicle. 
  • More than half of ALL flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into floodwaters.
  • Many flash flood deaths occur at night.
  • 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet.
  • It takes only 2 feet of water to float away most vehicles.
  • Never walk through floodwaters.
  • If you’re trapped by moving water move to the highest point and call 911.
  • If line markings on the road are not visible, DO NOT drive through the water.
  • Avoid driving through pools of standing water.
  • Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect and can protect the life you've built. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 

Video captured in 2019 as a woman was rescued after flash flooding in Gibsonville


You can find out the types of flood risk for your area by checking out the following:


Make sure you download the WFMY News 2 App, and the WFMY News 2 Weather App for the latest news emergency information.

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If the power or cable goes out, you'll still be able to connect online. Download the WFMY News 2 App for live streaming video, updated weather forecasts, and reports from our field crews. Be sure to check the county where you live and work, so you'll get alerts in your area. You can also get alerts for other locations. 

RELATED: Weather Alerts | How to set up severe weather alerts on your iPhone or Android


Charge Up Your Tech Devices: With severe weather, there's always the possibility of power outages. Plan ahead and get your phones, laptops, and tablets charged up now. The more options you have when the power goes out, the longer you'll be able to keep in touch.


Twitter vs. Facebook: Don't depend solely on Facebook to deliver timely weather alerts. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what shows up in your newsfeed. Every post does not show up in your feed even if you've liked a page. You will miss important posts if you only depend on seeing them through Facebook. Twitter, on the other hand, will show every single post from a source you're following. Be sure to double-check timestamps on tweets.


Only when it is safe to do so, please share your storm and damage pictures and videos by texting 336-379-5775. Make sure to include your name and location in your text. You can also email photos to news@wfmy.com or to webteam@wfmy.com, or myphotos@wfmy.com   

Credit: WFMY News 2
Text your photos or videos to 336-379-5775


  • Duke Energy: 1-800-POWERON, 1-800-769-3766 Customers may also report an outage or view current outages online
  • Duke Energy Progress: 1-800-419-6356
  • NC Electrical Cooperatives: 1-888-411-7870
  • Energy United: 1-800-386-4833
  • Randolph Electric: 1-877-736-2633
  • Piedmont Electric: 1-800-449-2667
  • Surry-Yadkin Electric: 336-356-8241
  • City of Lexington Electric: 336-248-2337
  • City of High Point Electric: 336-883-3111