You are on page 1of 10

Nature of floods

Reporter:pilapil,Rosalyn A.
Flood Facts
In terms of lives lost and property damaged, floods are just
behind tornadoes as the top natural disaster. In the United
States, flood damages totaled $8.41 billion in 2011. There were
113 flood-related deaths. Floods can affect any area to some
degree; wherever rain falls, flooding can occur.

As water falls to the Earth in the form of rain or snow, it

seeps into the ground. But if the ground is frozen or the surface
impervious (asphalt or concrete are two contenders) or the soil
is already saturated and cannot absorb the water faster than it
falls from the sky, problems arise.
The only part of this home in Vicksburg Mississippi above water on May 13, 2011 was the roof.
Credit: Howard Greenblatt
Types of flooding
There are several types of flooding.
Overbank flooding:What most people think of when
they hear the word "flood." Filled to capacity because of
heavy rain ormelting snow, the water within a river
overflows its banks and spreads across the land around
it. Sometimes the area covered is wide and flat; water
tends to spread out and be slow-moving, and may not
appear to travel at all. Common in theMidwest, this
kind of flooding can take days to dissipate. In
mountainous areas, where water flows together through
steep valleys, the flood water tends to move faster and
linger for a shorter duration.
Waterfall created during the flood that rapidly formed Lake Canyon Gorge.
Credit: Richard Sears
Types of flooding
Flash floods:Water from floods can take time to build up, allowing the
population in an area time to be warned in advance. But sometimes
flooding occurs quickly.Flash floodsgather steam within six hours of the
events that spawned them. They are characterized by a rapid rise of
fast-moving water. Fast-moving water is extremely dangerous water
moving at 10 miles an hour can exert the same pressures as wind gusts
of 270 mph (434 kph), according to a 2005 article inUSA Today. Water
moving at 9 feet per second (2.7 meters per second), a common speed
for flash floods, can move rocks weighing almost a hundred pounds.
Ice jam flooding:In cold temperatures, bodies of water are often
frozen. Heavy precipitation can cause chunks of ice to push together
and create a dam in what is known as ice jam flooding. Behind the
dam, water begins to pile up, spilling over to the plains nearby.
Eventually, the wall of ice breaks, and fast-moving water rushes
downstream much like a conventional flash flood, destroying objects
in its path. The water carries huge chunks of ice, which can increase
damage to surrounding structures.

Coastal floodingoccurs along the edges of oceans, and is driven

predominantly by storm surges and wave damage. This kind of flooding is
usually connected to hurricanes,tsunamisor tropical storms. When low
pressures occur in a storm over the ocean, they suck the water toward the
center. As long as the eye is over deep water, problems are minimized, but
as the storm moves toward land it carries a dome of water that can
exceed 25 feet (7.6 meters) in diameter. When the dome reaches the
shoreline, it can cause significant damage. At the same time, waves
breaking along the shoreline assault beaches and structures, with
destructive potential. In ahurricane, 9 out of 10 deaths are caused not by
wind but by fast-moving storm surge.
There are few places on Earth where people need not be concerned about flooding. Any place where rain falls
is vulnerable, although rain is not the only impetus for flood.
A flood occurs when water overflows or inundates land that's normally dry. This can happen in a multitude of
ways. Most common is when rivers or streams overflow their banks. Excessive rain, a ruptured dam or levee,
rapid ice melting in the mountains, or even an unfortunately placed beaver dam can overwhelm a river and
send it spreading over the adjacent land, called a floodplain. Coastal flooding occurs when a large storm or
tsunami causes the sea to surge inland.
Most floods take hours or even days to develop, giving residents ample time to prepare or evacuate. Others
generate quickly and with little warning. These flash floods can be extremely dangerous, instantly turning a
babbling brook into a thundering wall of water and sweeping everything in its path downstream.

Disaster experts classify floods according to their likelihood of occurring in a given time period. A
hundred-year flood, for example, is an extremely large, destructive event that would theoretically be
expected to happen only once every century. But this is a theoretical number. In reality, this classification
means there is a one-percent chance that such a flood could happen in any given year. Over recent
decades, possibly due to global climate change, hundred-year floods have been occurring worldwide
with frightening regularity.

Moving water has awesome destructive power. When a river overflows its banks or the sea drives
inland, structures poorly equipped to withstand the water's strength are no match. Bridges, houses,
trees, and cars can be picked up and carried off. The erosive force of moving water can drag dirt from
under a building's foundation, causing it to crack and tumble.
But flooding, particularly in river floodplains, is as natural as rain and has been occurring
for millions of years. Famously fertile floodplains like the Mississippi Valley in the American
Midwest, the Nile River valley in Egypt, and the Tigris-Euphrates in the Middle East have
supported agriculture for millennia because annual flooding has left millions of tons of
nutrient-rich silt deposits behind.
Most flood destruction is attributable to humans' desire to live near picturesque coastlines
and in river valleys. Aggravating the problem is a tendency for developers to backfill and
build on wetlands that would otherwise act as natural flood buffers.
Many governments mandate that residents of flood-prone areas purchase flood insurance
and build flood-resistant structures. Massive efforts to mitigate and redirect inevitable
floods have resulted in some of the most ambitious engineering efforts ever seen, including
New Orleans's extensive levee system and massive dikes and dams in the Netherlands. And
highly advanced computer modeling now lets disaster authorities predict with amazing
accuracy where floods will occur and how severe they're likely to be.