With Tropical Storm Kay arriving, here’s how to check your flood risk

As if a historic heatwave wasn’t enough to ponder, Southern Californians now have flood warnings on their minds.

Tropical Storm Kay, a system along the north coast of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, is expected to bring heavy rain, flash flooding, strong winds and muggy conditions through Saturday.

For most of Southern California, however, this storm will be a blessing, not a curse, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability.

It “will reduce the risk of fire more than what other things like flooding will do for the most part,” Swain said.

There are some exceptions, he said. For example, eastern counties of San Diego and Imperial — the southeastern deserts — have the potential for widespread and severe flash flooding. And gusty winds could complicate extinguishing efforts, while particularly intense downpours could cause severe debris flows in a wildfire footprint.

However, heavy rains are likely to be absent in San Diego and Imperial counties, sparing recent fire areas farther north, Swain said. He added that the place most likely to benefit from the storm is the coastal plain, where the rain is “finally going to cool everyone.”

So should you be prepared for the authorities to issue a flood warning? In a word yes. We might not see one this weekend, but there’s no harm in preparing for the future.

According to the California Department of Water Resources, the state experiences many types of flooding, including alluvial fans, riverine, coastal, flash floods, and localized floods, as well as debris flows and tsunamis.

As the name suggests, according to Ready LA County, flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just minutes and with no visible sign of rain.

Be aware of flood hazards wherever you live, but especially if your home is in a low-lying area, near water, or near a recently burned hill, Ready LA County advises.

Check the flood risk in your area

Use a flood map to understand flood risk in your community and determine if your home is in a flood zone.

A flood zone means that the area can become flooded in the event of heavy rains or a weather disaster.

Two government agencies — the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services — provide online information about flood risk and other hazards throughout California. All you have to do is enter your address in the search tool to see what problems your home is facing.

On the FEMA map, medium- to low-risk flood areas are denoted by the letters B, C, and X. In these areas, the risk of flooding is reduced but not eliminated. Areas at risk of flooding are marked with the letters A and V.

A community’s risk of flooding changes over time, so the National Food Insurance Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency continuously work with communities across the country to identify and map flood risks.

Prepare for floods

Preparing for a flood — or any type of emergency — begins with making a plan with your immediate family and neighbors.

Part of this plan involves packing a go-bag, which should contain important documents (in a ziplock or other waterproof bag), medication, an extra pair of glasses (or contacts), a comfortable pair of shoes, a change of clothes, small bills (several 1 – and $5 bills), a phone charger, a flashlight, water, and non-perishable groceries.

If you have pets, pack food, treats, and an extra leash if you have one.

Consider the needs of each family member when creating your go bag.

Emily Montanez, assistant director of the LA County Office of Emergency Management, said you should try to create a small community of close neighbors that you can reach out to in the event of a disaster. Consider creating an emergency contact list on paper in case your phone stops working or the battery dies and you can’t check the contacts there, she said.

Follow emergency orders

If an evacuation is ordered or recommended in your community, evacuate immediately.

Montanez said when it comes to safety, listen to first responders.

“If someone knocks on their front door from someone in law enforcement or [from] the fire department, we definitely support the safest approach and the evacuation of your home,” she said.

Stay up to date with alerts and alerts by subscribing to your local emergency mass notification system.

Los Angeles County residents can subscribe to Alert LA County, Notify LA, and Nixle to receive notifications via text or email. Keep up to date with weather forecasts by tuning in to your local news station and visiting the National Weather Service Los Angeles website.

If your community has a flood alert or watch and you have some time before evacuation, move valuables (especially water-sensitive ones like laptops, tablets, and smart kitchen appliances) from lower floors to upper floors. You should also disconnect any electrical appliances or turn off circuits at the fuse box or fuse box.

If you have been evacuated, wait for the authorities to give you the green light to return to your home.

About the Times Utility Journalism Team

This article is from the Times’ Utility Journalism team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of people in Southern California by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions, and aids in decision making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles – including current Times subscribers and diverse communities whose needs have not been met by our coverage in the past.

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https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-09/are-you-in-a-flood-zone-how-to-know-and-other-safety-tips-ahead-of-tropical-storm-kay With Tropical Storm Kay arriving, here’s how to check your flood risk

Alley Einstein

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