Snowmelt Flooding – Why Central Indiana is Especially Vulnerable

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), these are some of the factors that contribute to snowmelt flooding.

High soil moisture conditions prior to snowmelt

Rainfall during the late fall causes the soil to be more saturated.

Ground frost or frozen soil

Central Indiana has experienced freezing temperatures or below for several weeks now, causing hard ground frost which prevents snowmelt from infiltrating the soil.

Heavy winter snow cover

Widespread and heavy snow cover means there is more water stored and available for snowmelt.

Widespread heavy rains during the melt period

Rain at this time contributes more water for flooding. Also, heavy rain can warm up cold snowpacks, causing them to melt more quickly. “Rain-on-snow” events are watched carefully for this reason. Heavy rain is predicted for central Indiana this weekend — as much as 3 inches in some locations.

Rapid snow melt

Most often, snowmelt is a relatively slow phenomenon. Snowmelt rates are usually comparable to light-moderate rainfall. Important exceptions to this can occur, especially during unusually warm periods with high dew point temperatures (humidity), and when nighttime temperatures remain above freezing. Snowmelt rates can be much higher than normal under these conditions. These are precisely the conditions forecasted for Indianapolis, Hamilton County, and much of central Indiana for the remainder of this week, with daytime highs around 50 degrees and nighttime lows in the mid-40’s. In the greater Indianapolis area, temperatures are not predicted to be freezing or below again until Monday, December 23.

Ice jams in rivers

Snowmelt and the breakup of river ice often occur at about the same time. Ice jams sometimes occur, often in response to higher, fluctuating river flows associated with snowmelt. Ice jams can act as dams on the river that result in flooding. For this reasons, locations along central Indiana waterways should be especially vigilant.

How to Prepare for Snowmelt Flooding in Central Indiana

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) give the following advice.

Preparation — When Flooding is Predicted

While some preparation should be done well in advance of likely flood conditions, even when flooding is imminent, there are steps that can be taken.

  • Contact the local county geologist or county planning department to find out if your home is located in a flash-flood-prone area or landslide-prone area.
  • Learn about your community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the “family contact” in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
  • Post emergency phone numbers at every phone and add them to the contact list of your mobile phones.
  • Inform local authorities about any special needs, such as elderly or bedridden people, or anyone with a disability.
  • Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the flood strikes. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuation. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate. Secure structurally unstable building materials.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher and make sure your family knows where it is and how to use it.
  • Buy and install sump pumps with back-up power.
  • Have a licensed electrician raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12″ above your home’s projected flood elevation.
  • For drains, toilets, and other sewer connections, install backflow valves or plugs to prevent floodwaters from entering.
  • Anchor fuel tanks which can contaminate your basement if torn free. An unanchored tank outside can be swept downstream and damage other houses.
  • If you are under a flood watch or warning:
  • Gather the emergency supplies you previously stocked in your home and stay tuned to local radio or television station for updates.
  • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
  • Have your immunization records handy or be aware of your last tetanus shot, in case you should receive a puncture wound or a wound becomes contaminated during or after the flood.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach. Rinse and fill with clean water.
  • Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills and trash cans inside or tie them down securely.

Emergency Supplies You Will Need

You should stock your home with supplies that may be needed during the emergency period. At a minimum, these supplies should include:

  • Several clean containers for water, large enough for a 3-5 day supply of water (about five gallons for each person).
  • A 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener.
  • A first aid kit and manual and prescription medicines and special medical needs.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
  • Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets or unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
  • Baby food and/or prepared formula, diapers, and other baby supplies.
  • Disposable cleaning cloths, such as “baby wipes” for the whole family to use in case bathing facilities are not available.
  • Personal hygiene supplies, such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
  • An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
  • Rubber boots, sturdy shoes, and waterproof gloves.

Preparing to Evacuate

Expect the need to evacuate and prepare for it. When a flood watch is issued, you should:

  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready.
  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
  • Identify essential documents such as medical records, insurance card along with ID cards and put in waterproof material to carry with you during evacuation.
  • Fill your clean water containers.
  • If you have pet, identify a shelter designated for pets.
  • Review your emergency plans and supplies, checking to see if any items are missing.
  • Tune in the radio or television for weather updates.
  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.
  • Put livestock and family pets in a safe area. Due to food and sanitation requirements, emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coldest possible temperature.

If You Are Ordered to Evacuate

You should never ignore an evacuation order. Authorities will direct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of the rising waters. If a flood warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:

  • Take only essential items with you.
  • If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
  • Disconnect appliances to prevent electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk across creeks or flooded roads.

If You Are Ordered NOT to Evacuate

To get through the storm in the safest possible manner:

  • Monitor the radio or television for weather updates.
  • Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or to a neighbor’s home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

SOURCE: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Landscape Solutions is Ready to Respond in an Emergency

Obviously, taking a proactive approach to planning for emergencies is critically important. At Landscape Solutions, several members of our staff have chosen to become a part of the Hamilton County Based Community Emergency Response Team to help our community in time of crisis, such as that faced when snowmelt flooding is imminent. CERT is a group of volunteers trained to assist local police and fire departments by assisting victims in the event of an emergency. If disaster strikes and first responders are overwhelmed, these individuals can provide immediate action to those in need.

As part of our local emergency response team, our staff members have received specialized training through CERT (Community Emergency Response Team.) The goal of CERT is to educate people about disaster preparedness and train them in basic response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

Clients of Landscape Solutions benefit from the education and experience we have received through our emergency training. In the event of an emergency, we are able to offer the following assistance:

  • Dispatch a trained, experienced crew and the heavy equipment necessary to clear downed trees and debris on streets, common areas, pathways, etc.
  • Coordinate the utility shut-offs necessary for your specific property (electricity, gas, water) as well as work with our partners to provide other required services (plumbers, tree service, etc.)
  • Help to coordinate these services to every one of your locations throughout central Indiana.

Read more about our CERT training and available services. If you are involved in the management of property or part of a homeowner’s association that could benefit from such services, CONTACT LANDSCAPE SOLUTIONS today.

What causes it and how can you prepare?

Snowmelt Flooding – Why Central Indiana is Especially Vulnerable

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), these are some of the factors that contribute to snowmelt flooding.

High soil moisture conditions prior to snowmelt

Rainfall during the late fall causes the soil to be more saturated.

Ground frost or frozen soil

Central Indiana has experienced freezing temperatures or below for several weeks now, causing hard ground frost which prevents snowmelt from infiltrating the soil.

Heavy winter snow cover

Widespread and heavy snow cover means there is more water stored and available for snowmelt.

Widespread heavy rains during the melt period

Rain at this time contributes more water for flooding. Also, heavy rain can warm up cold snowpacks, causing them to melt more quickly. “Rain-on-snow” events are watched carefully for this reason. Heavy rain is predicted for central Indiana this weekend — as much as 3 inches in some locations.

Rapid snow melt

Most often, snowmelt is a relatively slow phenomenon. Snowmelt rates are usually comparable to light-moderate rainfall. Important exceptions to this can occur, especially during unusually warm periods with high dew point temperatures (humidity), and when nighttime temperatures remain above freezing. Snowmelt rates can be much higher than normal under these conditions. These are precisely the conditions forecasted for Indianapolis, Hamilton County, and much of central Indiana for the remainder of this week, with daytime highs around 50 degrees and nighttime lows in the mid-40’s. In the greater Indianapolis area, temperatures are not predicted to be freezing or below again until Monday, December 23.

Ice jams in rivers

Snowmelt and the breakup of river ice often occur at about the same time. Ice jams sometimes occur, often in response to higher, fluctuating river flows associated with snowmelt. Ice jams can act as dams on the river that result in flooding. For this reasons, locations along central Indiana waterways should be especially vigilant.

How to Prepare for Snowmelt Flooding in Central Indiana

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) give the following advice.

Preparation — When Flooding is Predicted

While some preparation should be done well in advance of likely flood conditions, even when flooding is imminent, there are steps that can be taken.

  • Contact the local county geologist or county planning department to find out if your home is located in a flash-flood-prone area or landslide-prone area.
  • Learn about your community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the “family contact” in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
  • Post emergency phone numbers at every phone and add them to the contact list of your mobile phones.
  • Inform local authorities about any special needs, such as elderly or bedridden people, or anyone with a disability.
  • Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the flood strikes. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuation. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate. Secure structurally unstable building materials.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher and make sure your family knows where it is and how to use it.
  • Buy and install sump pumps with back-up power.
  • Have a licensed electrician raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12″ above your home’s projected flood elevation.
  • For drains, toilets, and other sewer connections, install backflow valves or plugs to prevent floodwaters from entering.
  • Anchor fuel tanks which can contaminate your basement if torn free. An unanchored tank outside can be swept downstream and damage other houses.
  • If you are under a flood watch or warning:
  • Gather the emergency supplies you previously stocked in your home and stay tuned to local radio or television station for updates.
  • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
  • Have your immunization records handy or be aware of your last tetanus shot, in case you should receive a puncture wound or a wound becomes contaminated during or after the flood.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach. Rinse and fill with clean water.
  • Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills and trash cans inside or tie them down securely.

Emergency Supplies You Will Need

You should stock your home with supplies that may be needed during the emergency period. At a minimum, these supplies should include:

  • Several clean containers for water, large enough for a 3-5 day supply of water (about five gallons for each person).
  • A 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener.
  • A first aid kit and manual and prescription medicines and special medical needs.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
  • Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets or unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
  • Baby food and/or prepared formula, diapers, and other baby supplies.
  • Disposable cleaning cloths, such as “baby wipes” for the whole family to use in case bathing facilities are not available.
  • Personal hygiene supplies, such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
  • An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
  • Rubber boots, sturdy shoes, and waterproof gloves.

Preparing to Evacuate

Expect the need to evacuate and prepare for it. When a flood watch is issued, you should:

  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready.
  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
  • Identify essential documents such as medical records, insurance card along with ID cards and put in waterproof material to carry with you during evacuation.
  • Fill your clean water containers.
  • If you have pet, identify a shelter designated for pets.
  • Review your emergency plans and supplies, checking to see if any items are missing.
  • Tune in the radio or television for weather updates.
  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.
  • Put livestock and family pets in a safe area. Due to food and sanitation requirements, emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coldest possible temperature.

If You Are Ordered to Evacuate

You should never ignore an evacuation order. Authorities will direct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of the rising waters. If a flood warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:

  • Take only essential items with you.
  • If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
  • Disconnect appliances to prevent electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk across creeks or flooded roads.

If You Are Ordered NOT to Evacuate

To get through the storm in the safest possible manner:

  • Monitor the radio or television for weather updates.
  • Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or to a neighbor’s home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

SOURCE: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Landscape Solutions is Ready to Respond in an Emergency

Obviously, taking a proactive approach to planning for emergencies is critically important. At Landscape Solutions, several members of our staff have chosen to become a part of the Hamilton County Based Community Emergency Response Team to help our community in time of crisis, such as that faced when snowmelt flooding is imminent. CERT is a group of volunteers trained to assist local police and fire departments by assisting victims in the event of an emergency. If disaster strikes and first responders are overwhelmed, these individuals can provide immediate action to those in need.

As part of our local emergency response team, our staff members have received specialized training through CERT (Community Emergency Response Team.) The goal of CERT is to educate people about disaster preparedness and train them in basic response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

Clients of Landscape Solutions benefit from the education and experience we have received through our emergency training. In the event of an emergency, we are able to offer the following assistance:

  • Dispatch a trained, experienced crew and the heavy equipment necessary to clear downed trees and debris on streets, common areas, pathways, etc.
  • Coordinate the utility shut-offs necessary for your specific property (electricity, gas, water) as well as work with our partners to provide other required services (plumbers, tree service, etc.)
  • Help to coordinate these services to every one of your locations throughout central Indiana.

Read more about our CERT training and available services. If you are involved in the management of property or part of a homeowner’s association that could benefit from such services, CONTACT LANDSCAPE SOLUTIONS today.

Pin It on Pinterest