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Hurricane Dangers: Flooding

A United States flag hangs outside a flooded home in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Monday,...
A United States flag hangs outside a flooded home in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, near the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)(David J. Phillip | AP)
Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 12:38 AM CDT
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The next time you hear hurricane -- think flooding!

In addition to high winds and storm surge, hurricanes threaten coastal areas with their heavy rains. In fact, flooding is the major threat from hurricanes for people living inland.

Since the 1970′s, flooding has been responsible for more than half of all deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States. Flooding from hurricanes can occur hundreds of miles from the coast. That places communities that would not normally be affected by the strongest hurricane winds, in great danger.

Facts About Inland Flooding From Hurricanes

  • From 1970-1999, 78% of children killed by hurricanes drowned in freshwater floods.
  • One cubic yard of water weighs 1,700 lbs. The average automobile weighs 3,400 lbs. Many automobiles will float in just two feet of water.
  • The average person can be swept off their feet in 6 inches of moving water.
  • The average vehicle can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water.
  • At least 23% of U.S. hurricane deaths happen to people who drown inside their cars or trying to get out of them.
  • Rainfall is typically heavier with slower moving storms.
  • Some of the greatest rainfall amounts associated are seen in weaker Tropical Storms that have a slow forward speed (1 to 10 mph) or stall over an area. Due to the amount of rainfall a Tropical Storm can produce, they are capable of causing as much damage as a category 2 hurricane.
  • During hurricane landfall, rainfall amounts of 10-15 inches or more is common. If the storm is large and moving slowly the rainfall amounts from a well-organized storm are likely to be even higher.
Hurricane Michael dumped several inches of rain in a short time on many parts of the Wiregrass.
Hurricane Michael dumped several inches of rain in a short time on many parts of the Wiregrass.(Source: National Weather Service)

Hurricane Michael in 2018 dropped more than 10 inches of rain on parts of Bay, Washington, and Jackson Counties in the Florida Panhandle. Most of Houston County received 5 inches of rain as the storm passed through the area.

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey was a devastating Category 4 hurricane that made landfall on Texas and Louisiana in August 2017, causing catastrophic flooding and more than 100 deaths. It is tied with 2005′s Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, causing $125 billion in damage, primarily from catastrophic rainfall-triggered flooding in the Houston area and Southeast Texas. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches of rain as the system slowly meandered over eastern Texas causing unprecedented flooding.

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Background Picture: A home damaged by Hurricane Harvey remains surrounded by flood waters, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Rockport, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)