Forest Service Officials Alert Neighbors and Visitors About The Dangers of Flash Floods

Contact(s): Carolyn Krupp, Lucy Cruz

Rio Grande, PR …National forest officials are reminding visitors and neighboring communities about the potential dangers of flash floods which can occur throughout the year, but can be more frequent during the rainy months of April and May.  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 especially in low-lying areas, 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.

“There is very little time to react,” said Pablo Cruz, El Yunque Forest Supervisor. “Forest visitors need to be more conscious about sudden storms. Visitors and families should discuss how they would alert each other and climb to safety if rushing water arrives.”

Weather experts say the best defence is to be weather-ready before a storm hits.  Forest officials are asking visitors and 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.

National forests are also popular places to camp. “People camp in El Yunque throughout the year,” Cruz  said. “They need to be weather-ready every time they visit the forest. Outdoor safety isn't something to take lightly.”

The National Weather Service is our nation’s exclusive and trusted source for weather forecasts and warnings. Their meteorologists use the most advanced flood warning and forecast system in the world to protect lives and property.  Whenever severe weather is forecasted, forest visitors and campers need to be cautious while outdoors, always be alert for sudden storms and the sound of rushing water.