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How Flooding Occurs
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Floods occur everywhere and for any number of reasons. Even areas not known for flooding may unexpectedly end up having to deal with the problem at some point. For example, the city of Atlanta experienced torrential rains that left much of the metro area underwater in 2009. For a city not used to such events, hundreds of thousands of property owners were caught off guard.
So how do floods occur? Floods are unpredictable entities and may be the result of one particular cause or perhaps a perfect storm of several circumstances coming together to create the problem. The very nature of their formation means that floods are guaranteed to be uncontrollable and impossible to wholly prevent.
Many times, natural causes of flooding, random weather patterns or events allow flood conditions to arise and give way to major flood events and damage.
Most floods are the result of rapidly changing weather conditions and in most cases are linked to monsoons, hurricanes, or rainy seasons (depending on the area of the country). For the eastern United States, flooding is most common during hurricane season between June and November.
Floods may occur as the result of torrential rains, or even steady rain dropped on one area for a prolonged period of time. Rains can cause rivers and streams to swell and overflow their banks sending flash floods racing across the countryside. Floods may also occur naturally as the result of snowmelt running off of mountain peaks. Snowmelt-related floods typically occur at the beginning of the spring season as temperatures begin to warm up, accompanied by warmer spring rains.
Other Ways Flooding Occurs
Human activities may not directly cause flooding, but they may contribute to the problem in a big way. The cutting of trees is one cause since it decreases the amount of vegetation. Vegetation helps rainfall precipitate back into the air. Also building homes near rivers has an effect; when vegetation is at a minimum, there is more water left behind following extreme rainfall. When this water is not returned into the atmosphere, the excess water results in flooding which may be considerable.
Dams are used to intercept and hold back water before it can have a major effect on cities or residential areas. Unfortunately these dams sometimes fail, resulting in massive flooding. Likewise, poor residential planning and landscaping may make it impossible for excess water to run off and drain away properly. Improper landscaping is a major cause for many cases of localized flooding.
Knowing what causes flooding is the key to defending against its effects. Determine the flood threat in your community and take the proper steps to protect your home in the event of an unforeseen disaster.