Flash Flood Safety Tips While Camping

Of course you check the weather before you set out for the weekend.  But thunderstorms in the mountains seem to pop up without notice.

Be aware of your surroundings as well as what's happening overhead.  On your way to your campground, read road signs that direct you in case of flash floods.  Some areas, that are prone to flash flooding, have permanent signs on the road.  If it's your first time driving in Death Valley you may think the signs are a hoax or something left over from an ancient weather pattern.

If flash flooding can happen in Death Valley, it can happen anywhere

If flash flooding can happen in Death Valley, it can happen anywhere

Temporary signs or barricades may be displayed when water crosses a road.  It is tempting to want to drive across a seemingly shallow flow of water across an established road.  But it only takes 6 inches of water to move a vehicle and 2 feet of water can carry a car away.

Don't Drown.  Turn Around!

If you are camping or hiking in an area with cell service, you may receive Weather Emergency Alerts on your cell phone.  If there is no cell service in your area a portable NOAA weather radio, with an alert tone set on, can save your life.  Find your destination on this list of NOAA weather radio frequencies.

Survey the area before setting up your tent.  Avoid low areas and look for nature's warning signs.  Above all, listen for weather signs.  In some areas a thunder storm miles away can cause flooding where it hasn't even rained.  If thunderstorms are within earshot, stay out of dry creek beds.  If you hear water in a dry creek bed, move away immediately.  NEVER set your tent up in a dry creek bed and always at a safe distance from running rivers.  If you hear a strange rumbling, move fast!

Spring runoff is not the only risk of flooding

Spring runoff is not the only risk of flooding

A recent Yahoo News story reports:

In the Angeles National Forest, a group of 4 or 5 people and a dog were airlifted to safety.

A U.S. Forest Service spokesman told KNBC-TV some campers had seconds to evacuate before a torrent of water washed their tents and belongings.

"It sounded like a freight train coming through," Robert Ethridge said.

Jo Leach

Jo and Don worked in logistics and software development before workamping. We have worked for AL&L for 11 seasons as Campground Managers, Area Managers and currently as Regional Managers. Our website provides general information for retirees starting out in workamping.