Flooding Means Much-Needed Rain But Also Potential Devastating Consequences

Winter storms can often create havoc around the holidays, especially when traveling. But, as California’s historic drought extends into a sixth year, the state is in dire need of more rain and snow, and plenty of it.

Sometimes, though, an abundance of precipitation can initiate devastating consequences.

California is susceptible to flooding, and even more so now after destructive wildfires left many areas in Northern and Southern California with dramatic burn-scarred hills. Because it could take many years for vegetation to become reestablished, a substantial amount of rain over an extended period creates elevated risks for flash flooding and debris flows. Most of these burn areas will be prone to this activity for at least two years.

Thunderstorms that develop over the burned areas may begin to produce flash flooding and debris flows before a warning can be issued. While flash flooding and debris flows are extreme, there are also other concerns to be aware of once weather patterns change. Street flooding and gutter overflow can also create extensive problems.

Keeping gutters clean and clearing debris is paramount to avoid any excess water build-up.

Be prepared for a flood with some of these items in stock:

  • Water: at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food: at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight and battery-operated radio (extra batteries)
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash

Be on alert by:

  • Listening to area radio and television stations
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. Stop and turn around.

For more on how to prepare for flooding or other emergencies, visit Storms.ca.gov.


Additional resources



National Weather Service

American Red Cross

Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) 2017 wildfires, and statewide wildfire siege in 2018 . Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: