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Floods and Flash Flooding

Flash flooding and floods result from heavy rain, often connected with the occasional tropical storm or hurricane. Flooding is common in the Baltimore region.

Flash flooding – which occurs when rain falls so quickly and heavily that the ground cannot absorb it – is particularly dangerous. 

Driving through floodwaters, as this driver on lower Glencoe
Road tried to do, is hazardous.

"Turn Around, Don't Drown"

Driving or wading in moving water is hazardous. Eighty percent of all moving water fatalities occur in vehicles.

The dangers are so great that the National Weather Service has begun a national education campaign, "Turn Around, Don't Drown."

Baltimore County Fire Department water rescue crews note the following:

  • Many people mistakenly believe that vehicles provide protection in moving water. In fact, one foot of water moving at six miles per hour will sweep a vehicle away. Two feet of water will float a car. Do not attempt to drive through standing water.
  • The road frequently is washed away during flooding, leaving potholes where vehicles can become trapped. Do not attempt to cross water covering or flowing across the road surface.
  • Do not drive around barricades if the road has been shut down. If your vehicle stalls in the water, leave it and flee to higher ground.
  • Do not attempt to wade across water more than one foot deep, or water of unknown depth.

Additional Safety Measures

Follow these precautions to stay safe during a flash flood:

  • Do not allow children to play in or around floodwaters. Children can be swept away while playing in rain-swollen streams, creeks and concrete-lined channels.
  • Floodwaters are contaminated. Do not walk, swim or drink floodwaters.
  • Remember that most flooding deaths occur close to home. Evacuate when ordered, or when it appears wise.
  • Be cautious of entering or staying in buildings during flooding. Electrocution and poisonous fumes are potential dangers.
  • Obey lawful orders of police, fire and emergency workers, particularly concerning traffic closures and evacuations.

County's Swiftwater Capabilities

The County has a substantial array of resources for dealing with swiftwater rescues. Swiftwater teams include the Advanced Tactical Rescue Team located at Texas Station Number 17, and teams from Kingsville and Arbutus volunteer fire companies. The Middle River Volunteer Rescue Company has a Dive Rescue Team, and the Bowleys Quarters and Northpoint-Edgemere volunteer fire companies have marine rescue teams used for open water rescues on the Chesapeake Bay, lakes and reservoirs.

The Police Department's aviation unit can assist with overhead search including the use of heat-sensing equipment. Several area search organizations provide trained dogs for ground and water searches.

Revised June 1, 2015

Revised April 6, 2016         


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