Are you prepared for flooding and other severe weather this spring?

Learn action steps you can take now as we transition into spring, a season in Michigan when floods most typically occur.

Michigan residents, like much of the nation, are weary of the record-breaking cold and snow we have experienced this winter and are eagerly anticipating spring. Most certainly look forward to warmer temperatures and spring showers that will result in trees sprouting leaves, flowers blooming, and lawns once again green and growing.

However, as winter slowly evolves into spring, dangerous weather conditions may occur. Take time now to prepare yourself and your family for sudden, unexpected adverse weather conditions. This year, of special concern, is an increased risk of flooding in several parts of the state.

The National Weather Service, a component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that on average, flooding causes more property damage in the United States than any other weather related event. To educate citizens how to prepare for a flood before one strikes their neighborhood, NOAA has teamed up with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and other partner organizations to celebrate National Flood Awareness Week, March 16-22. Check out the variety of resources and helpful information on their flood safety website. They even offer a Michigan page listing significant flooding events in Michigan history, links to regional NWS forecast offices located in Michigan, and other flood hazard information.

Though flooding is a probability in Michigan every spring, this year with the current amount of snow on the ground, the water available in the snow pack, depth of ground frost, amount of soil moisture in the ground and the extensive ice cover on the Great Lakes, NWS estimates several areas of Michigan could be at increased risk of river flooding. They are closely monitoring the situation and posting updates as weather conditions change. They note that the threat of significant flooding would be less with more days of cool temperatures and some sunshine allowing the snow on the ground and ice on rivers to melt slowly. No rain or infrequent smaller rain events would allow drainage to occur as frozen ground slowly thaws. Weather experts are especially concerned about ice on the Great Lakes preventing river ice to flow into the Great Lakes as it breaks up. That could result in sudden ice jams and rapid rises in river levels. NWS reminds residents to be very careful near fast moving rivers especially if they contain breaking up ice. NOAA has a special campaign, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” to warn people not to drive or walk into flood waters.

To learn more about preparing for floods visit FEMA’s Ready.gov flood page. The site includes practical tips for actions you can take before, during and after a flooding event, discusses flood insurance options, and provides links to a wealth of related publications and sites.

You may also want to visit the Extension Disaster Education Network’s (EDEN) flood page for additional resources. Michigan State University Extension is another source of information and advice about dealing with flood damage in your home and on your property. If you cannot find the answer you seek on the MSU Extension website, consider using one of two links found on that site, Find An Expert, which will connect you to a local Extension staff person or eXtension.org’s Ask an Expert link where Extension staff from across the U.S. respond to inquiries.

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