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Public Information Statement

National Weather Service Headquarters Washington DC

135 PM EST Wed Mar 7 2012


To:       Subscribers:

          -Family of Services

          -NOAA Weather Wire Service

          -Emergency Managers Weather Information Network


          Other NWS partners and NWS employees


From:     Lora Mueller

          NWS National Hydrologic Outreach Program Leader


Subject:  2012 Flood Safety Awareness Week March 12-16, 2012


NWS has designated March 12-16, 2012, as the annual Flood Safety

Awareness Week.


It floods somewhere in the United States or its territories nearly

every day of the year. In the past 30 years, floods have claimed

an average of 94 lives a year and the economic impacts of floods

are growing. The annual average inflation-adjusted direct damage

costs due to flooding have risen each of the past three decades

from $4.7 billion for 1981-1990, to $7.9 billion for 1991-2000,

to $10.2 billion for 2001-2010.  The goals of Flood Safety Awareness

Week are to inform the public about NWS forecast and warning services

and flood safety information, heighten public awareness to the risks

associated with all types of floods including flash flooding, storm

surge, and those related to dam or levee failures, and empower

citizens to take actions necessary to protect their lives and property.


2011 was a devastating year for flooding impacts and provided a clear

example of why Americans depend on multi-agency water resource services

like flood forecasts and warnings issued by the NWS, water observations

provided by the USGS, water control and management provided by the U.S.

Army Corps of Engineers, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s

efforts in flood preparedness and response. At any time, heavy rainfall

or rapid snow melt can lead to flooding. Each geographic region of the

United States has one or more times of the year with an increased risk

of flooding.  In the late fall and winter, powerful Pacific storms can

strike the West Coast causing extensive flooding.  From late winter into

spring, people living across the northern third of the nation closely

monitor NWS forecasts when snow and ice can melt quickly, potentially

causing ice jams and extensive river flooding. In the spring and summer,

the threat of a flash flood from a thunderstorm is always a possibility

almost anywhere in the country. Each summer and fall, millions of people

living near the Gulf and East coasts listen keenly to tropical weather

reports to determine if flooding from a tropical storm or hurricane will

impact their area. As our nation’s infrastructure ages, increased stresses

on dams and levees due to the seasonal impacts described above can heighten

flood threats. Regardless of the cause, the NWS is committed to improving

the timeliness and accuracy of river and flood forecasts and warnings

necessary to help protect lives and livelihoods.


Water resources decision makers require new and more integrated information

and services to adapt to the uncertainty of future climate, land-use changes,

an aging water delivery infrastructure, and an increasing demand on limited

resources. Dr. Thomas Graziano, Chief of the NWS Hydrologic Services Division,

stated; “To address these growing challenges and to mitigate the death and

destruction caused by floods, NOAA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and

the U.S. Geological Survey, with complementary missions in water science,

observation, prediction and management, have formed a partnership entitled

Integrated Water Resources Science and Services (IWRSS) to address the nation’s

water resources information and management needs. In May 2011, this partnership

was formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the three agencies.”


On February 21, 2012, NOAA commenced the official groundbreaking of the

new National Water Center (NWC) on the campus of the University of Alabama

in Tuscaloosa. Gary Carter, Director of the NWS Office of Hydrologic Development,

stated, ”The NWC will create a first-of-its-kind national center for water

forecast operations, research and interagency coordination and serve as a

catalyst for IWRSS. It will support the routine generation of enhanced water

resources forecasts and information to more effectively manage the Nation’s

increasingly limited water supply and facilitate adaptive planning and management.

The NWC will be ready for initial occupation in late fiscal year 2013 and will

be staffed by multiple federal partner water agencies to ensure strong

coordination and collaboration.”


Extensive information about flooding and flood safety, including educational

materials, videos, brochures and news articles can be found online at:


Detailed information can be found on this Web page about important topics

covered in the following paragraphs.


Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service


The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) is the NWS frontline solution

for providing improved river and flood forecasting and water information across

America. AHPS provides a suite of graphical and numeric products over the Internet

to assist the public, community leaders and emergency managers in making better

life- and cost-saving decisions about evacuations and movement of property before

flooding occurs. The broad reach of AHPS extends the range of forecasts from

short-term (up to 6 hours) to long-term (out to weeks and months). AHPS provides

the public with more detailed and accurate answers to the following questions:

How high will the river rise? When will the river reach its peak? Where will

the flooding occur? How long will the flood last? How long will the drought

continue? How certain is the forecast?


Your gateway to Web resources provided through AHPS begins here:


Turn Around Don’t DrownTM


Most flood-related deaths occur in motor vehicles when people attempt to

drive through flooded roadways. Don’t underestimate the power of flowing

water across a road. It only takes 12 to 18 inches of water to cause a

vehicle, even large SUVs, to float. Unknown to the driver, the road may

even be washed away under the surface of the water, allowing the vehicle

to be swept away with the flood current. The NWS has developed the flood

safety slogan: Turn Around Don’t DrownTM and hopes you will remember these

words when you’re faced with a flooded roadway and have an important

decision to make. Be especially cautious when driving at night when it is

harder to recognize flood dangers.


Floods, Droughts, and Other Related Phenomena.


Hydrologic extremes have always plagued our vast nation. In 2011 the

nation experienced severe drought in Texas and Oklahoma, snowmelt

flooding in the northern tier states, heavy rainfall flooding over the

Ohio and Middle Mississippi River Valleys that lead to flooding along

the Lower Mississippi River and inland flooding from tropical systems

along the east coast states and into New England.  Each of these

phenomena has its own unique set of risks and associated safety protocols. 

For more information on these and other hydrologic extremes, refer to:


Flood Insurance


Flood losses typically are not covered in homeowner insurance policies;

however, flood insurance is available in communities taking part in FEMA

National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA’s FloodSmart campaign promotes

the idea that all Americans should know their flood risk and choose the

appropriate flood insurance. For more information on flood insurance,

refer to:


Flood Safety and a Weather Ready Nation


In partnership with other government agencies, researchers, and the

private sector, NWS is charting a path to a Weather-Ready Nation by:


- Improving the precision of weather and water forecasts and

  effective communication of risk to local authorities

- Improving weather decision support services with new

  Initiatives, such as the development of mobile-ready emergency

  response specialist teams

- Providing innovative science and technological solutions, such

  as the nationwide implementation of Dual Pol radar technology,

  Integrated Water Resources Science and Services, and the Joint

  Polar Satellite System

- Strengthening joint partnerships to enhance community


- Working with weather enterprise partners and the emergency

  management community to enhance safety and economic output and

  effectively manage environmental resources


The ultimate goal of the Weather Ready Nation vision is to save more

lives and protect livelihoods and the economy as communities across

the country become increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events.

For up-to-date weather and flood information and more on NWS, visit:


For more on the Weather Ready Nation initiative and projects, visit:



NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s

environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun,

and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.

Visit NOAA at:


For more information, contact:


Lora Mueller

NWS Hydrologic Services Branch

Silver Spring, MD 20910


National Public Information Statements are online at: