National forest officials have issued a flash flood bulletin for nearby communities and people who camp outdoors. A flash flood is a serious weather event for forest visitors because rising flood water is extremely dangerous—a sudden surge can claim victims in less than one minute.
Any intense, heavy rain that falls in a short amount of time can create flash flood conditions in a low-lying area, according to the National Weather Service, and it can happen at a moment’s notice any time of the year.
During a flash flood, rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more. The velocity of a flood surge can easily roll boulders and vehicles, tear out trees, destroy bridges and undermine roads. A low-lying area can become a death trap in a matter of minutes.
Statistics show that most flash floods in the U.S. occur after dark, when campers are asleep. Camping is one of the most popular activities in the National Forests in North Carolina, which consist of the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan national forests.
“Many of our neighbors like to camp overnight in the forest,” explained Kristin Bail, forest supervisor of the U.S. Forest Service National Forests in North Carolina. “Sometimes visitors camp in low-lying areas because they spent the day along the river. But a sudden rush of water toward their camp site would put them in immediate danger.”
Forest officials are asking neighbors to check the National Weather Service forecast before they leave home, and to be alert for changing weather conditions while visiting the forest. Devices like a weather radio, a terrestrial radio, a smart-phone app or a cell phone mobile alert can help visitors stay tuned-in before and during their outdoor activities.
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