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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Difference Between Flood Watch and Flood Warning

2/21/2023 (Permalink)

Image shows map of Duval County with different colors noting flood zones. SERVPRO recommends knowing your flood zone and heeding warnings of local officials.

Floods can do devastating damage to homes and businesses, so it’s important to keep an eye on weather developments. The common language about floods can be confusing, and sometimes meteorologists assume their viewers know all the terms. For instance, there’s an important difference between a “flood watch” and a “flood warning."

A few important terms and what they mean:

Flood Advisory - Be Aware

This is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

Flood Watch - Be Prepared

A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible. Know your zone.

Flood Warning - Take Action

A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring. This is elevated from, and always comes after, a flood watch. 

It is important to pay attention to all three, but realize that a flood warning is much more serious. Here’s one way to remember the difference: You watch for a threat. When you see it, then it’s time to warn people. 

Flash Flooding is flooding that begins within 6 hours, and often within 3 hours, of heavy rainfall. It can also occur after a dam or levee breaks or in concert with mudslides.

Flash Flood Watch - Be Prepared

A flood watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flash flooding. It does not mean that flash flooding will occur, but it is possible.

Flash Flood Warning - Take Action

Issued when flash flooding is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood-prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to a few hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.

Less common types of watches and warnings include:

Areal Flood Warning

Normally issued for flooding that develops more gradually, usually from prolonged and persistent moderate to heavy rainfall.  

River Flood Warning

A river flood warning is issued when a river is forecast to go above its designated flood stage at the forecast point.

Coastal Flood Watch

This means that seawater spillage over dune lines and sea walls will occur if the weather develops as expected and forecasted. People in the watch area should be ready to move to safe ground if flooding occurs or if warnings are issued.

Coastal Flood Warning

This means that seawater spillage over dune lines and sea walls is occurring, is imminent, or is expected within the next 12 hours. People in the warned area should take immediate action to protect their lives and property. Follow the recommendations of local officials and heed warnings.

If your Northeast Florida home or business has suffered flood damage, call SERVPRO of Mandarin. Our highly trained restoration technicians have the experience and equipment to restore your Julington Creek, Switzerland, San Jose, Durban, and St. Johns building and get everything back to preloss condition. A trusted leader in the industry, we’ve served our community for more than 40 years. Call 904-636-0044.

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