According to the National Weather Service, Doppler radar has detected a thunderstorm producing heavy rain in the upper Paria River drainage. Stgeorgeutah.com reported that flash flooding has already been reported in the Cannonville area and other areas like Henrieville, Tropic, and Kodachrome Basin State Park. The warning will remain in effect until 4:15 p.m. on Thursday.
Flash floods are not uncommon for southern Utah around this time of year. For example, myutahparks.com, a website dedicated to Utah’s National Parks warns that Utah’s river canyons are usually mild; however, flash floods can occur and can be dangerous when they happen. In southern Utah, there are many rock formations. These rocks act like concrete when it rains leaving few places for the water to travel meaning specific areas can be more affected than others. The storms of the later summer also produce large amounts of water and will pour over a small space. Similarly, to be endangered by a flash flood, you do not need to be in an area where the storm is occurring, you only have to be where a watershed is close.
Surprisingly, almost half of flash flood deaths happen in a vehicle. These are likely caused by things like hurricanes and other sudden disasters; however, it can happen in Utah.
Some flash floods have affected Utah residents in their cars. Some have even resulted in deaths. A flash flood this week reportedly swept a car off the road in Summit County near Diamon Fork Hot Springs. According to an article featured on KSL’s website, the people in the car were okay but shaken. Another report from 2015 found on CBS New’s site detailed how a flash flood killed at least 18 people in Hilldale and by Zion National Park.
You can search the web and find many articles which detail what you can do if you are hiking and suddenly caught in a flash flood. However, what is the protocol if you are driving and suddenly find yourself in an area where a flood is occurring. Also, how does insurance work when you are affected by a flash flood? Very Well Health recommends the following:
- Watch weather alerts and be aware when there is a flash flood warning in your area. Knowing this information can help you identify which areas to avoid.
- Do not drive toward or through the flash flood, even if it is just a small flow of water. A more massive surge could be coming.
- Try to stay near high ground.
- Do not stay in the flooded car. If the vehicle starts to be surrounded by floodwater, try to move immediately to higher ground, if possible.
- If, in the rare instance that your car is swept into a more substantial body of water then submerged completely, do not panic. Remain calm until the vehicle has filled with water. At this point, the doors will be able to open. You can then exit the car and swim to the surface.
- If you are stranded, do not enter the floodwater. Try to move to a higher area, if possible, then wait to be rescued.
Concerning flood damage to a car, according to the balance.com, auto insurance does cover flood damage if it is written into your policy. This is good news because flood insurance can be severely damaging. Often a flood can easily total a car. If you live in a high-risk flood zone, this type of insurance might be something you want. Comprehensive coverage could also cover this type of damage. Comprehensive coverage is something you have to select with your insurance agent. It is usually not an automatic part of an insurance policy.
A flood insurance claim is typically not a case we would handle; even if you were injured. However, we want to help keep everyone safe, and the unlikely scenario that you are involved in a flash flood while in your car is something which can be prevented.