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Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Causes of Floods

By Sarah Anderson

What causes flood? Learn the main causes for flooding. Flash floods, rivers overflow, dam and levee failures, and coastal floodingOverall, the water cycle is a balanced system. Water flowing into one part of the cycle, such as streams, is balanced by water flowing back to the ocean. Sometimes the amount flowing in to one area is greater than the capacity of the system to hold it within natural confines. The result is a flood.

Combinations of factors, along with exceptional precipitation, can also lead to flooding. For example, heavy snow melts, water saturated ground, unusually high tides, and drainage modifications when combined with heavy rain can lead to flooding.

Coastal Flooding

Areas along coastlines become subject to flooding as a result of heavy storms, tsunamis, hurricanes, and unusually high tides. In addition, long term processes like subsidence and rising sea level as a result of global warming can lead to the encroachment of the sea onto the land.

Dam & Levee Failures

Whether a dam is constructed by humans or nature or both, it may fail with the sudden release of water into the downstream drainage, leading to a flood. Levee systems are designed to prevent flooding; however, levees can fail and lead to catastrophic flooding.

Rivers Overflow

Floods will occur when a river overflows its banks. Floods happen when soil and vegetation cannot absorb all the water. In these situations water runs off the land in quantities that cannot be carried in stream channels.

Periodic floods occur naturally on many rivers, forming an area known as the flood plain. These river floods usually result from heavy rain, sometimes combined with melting snow.

Flash Floods

Flash floods are floods that rise and fall rapidly, often with limited or no advance warning. Flash floods are usually the result of intense rainfall over a relatively small area and timeframe.

Recommended Reading
An Introduction to Floods
Flood Readiness

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