Flash flood watch in effect for Rowan through this afternoon

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2013

With a tropical storm expected to head up the coast after making landfall in Florida on Thursday, Rowan County is part of an area under a flash flood watch through this afternoon, the National Weather Service says.
Today’s forecasts call for rain becoming heavy at times, causing high runoff. And, the service said in an advisory, localized bands of showers and thunderstorms may develop that dump 2 to 3 inches of rain in a three-hour period.
“Areas under these bands could see flash flooding along streams and creeks,” the advisory said. Recent rainfall has left the ground saturated and has elevated water levels on several waterways, the Weather Service says. If the rain develops as expected, some streams and creeks may rapidly rise over their banks.
Deep standing water and flooding caused by poor drainage is also possible.
A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. The Weather Service calls flash flooding “a very dangerous situation” and advises residents to monitor forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.
The advisory comes as Tropical Storm Andrea bears down on Florida after forming the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is expected to track up the coastline through Georgia and the Carolinas today, dumping up to 4 inches of rain in some locations.
If the storm maintains its predicted track, Rowan and the surrounding area should be west of the hardest-hit areas but will still get periods of heavy rain from the storm’s outer bands, the Weather Service says.
The N.C. Department of Transportation offers these tips for driving in storms and flooded areas:
• Allow more travel time.

• Reduce your speed by at least 5 to 10 miles per hour and allow at least twice the normal following distance.
• Avoid driving through flooded areas, even if they seem shallow. Just one foot of water can float many vehicles, while two feet of rushing water can carry away SUVs and pick-ups.
• If your car starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, apply the brakes in a steady, slightly firm manner without stomping and steer in the direction of the skid. If you have a manual transmission, push in the clutch and let the car slow down on its own.
• If the rain is extremely heavy, pull over in a safe area in a parking lot or on the roadside with your emergency flashers on, away from any trees or other tall objects, and wait for the weather to improve.
• Signal for turns ahead of time and brake early as you near a stop. Remember, roads are slickest in the first 10 to 15 minutes, especially if it has not rained for a while.
• If a traffic signal is knocked out by a storm, treat the intersection as a four-way stop. If two or more vehicles arrive at the same time, the car to the right has the right of way and after signaling, may move in any direction. If two facing vehicles approach the intersection at the same time, any car traveling straight ahead or turning right has the right of way.