Be ready for flash flooding: Expert shares advice

Jun 28, 2022, 6:00 PM
High water in the Gardiner River along the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Montana, ...
High water in the Gardiner River along the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Montana, that washed out part of a road on Monday, June 13, 2022. (National Park Service via AP)
(National Park Service via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — Do you know exactly what to do if caught in flash flooding. A Utah expert gives life-saving advice if you are trapped in floodwaters in your vehicle or at home.

Wade Mathews, of Utah Division of Emergency Management, joined Dave & Dujanovic to share his expertise on flash flooding, especially if you find yourself in your car or truck when it suddenly becomes enveloped in quick-running water.

Mathews said remember this always: Turn around, don’t drown. 

“Say that little phrase, Turn Around Don’t Drown, to help us remember what to do to be a survivor. And when faced with that danger, and then specifically if you’re in a car, same thing, Turn Around, Don’t Drown. But stay in the car if you’re caught in that situation,” Mathews said.

Dave Noriega pointed out that swiftly moving water packs a punch.

“We say 12 inches of fast-moving water can knock a person off their feet,” he said, “18 inches of fast-moving water can float a car.”

Check the weather for potential flash flooding

Mathews also reminded people who like to spend time in Utah’s backcountry, slot canyons or camping, fishing and hiking to check the weather forecast before you head out for your outdoor destination. Also, he advised, check the weather watches and warnings.

“A watch means things could happen; a warning means it’s imminent,” he said.

Dave pointed out that wildfires increase the chance of flash flooding. Because blazes can burn away vegetation, shrubs and trees that would otherwise slow or stop floodwaters.

“If you are in a situation that experienced a wildfire, what we call the wildland-urban interface on the foothills and up in the wooded areas. If there’s been a fire there, yes, there’s an increased risk of flash flooding or landslides, mudslides,” Mathews said.

Flash flooding at home

“Is there anything we should be prepared for in our homes when it comes to the potential for flash floods if you live in an area that’s recently experienced a fire and there’s burn scars?” asked Debbie Dujanovic.

“Oftentimes there’s not a lot of warning that your particular area is gonna get hit with flooding, but if you have some warning, [place] sandbags, barricades barriers . . . move expensive items to higher floors,” Mathews recommended.

“If I remember correctly, don’t communities, cities or counties don’t they have resources as far as like sandbags that you can access?” Dave asked.

Mathews said check in advance with your emergency management or public works agencies to see if they have sandbags available for residents.

“You know we’re entering monsoon season. We’re seeing thunderstorms this week. [There is] flash flooding potential in southern Utah [and] south-central Utah right now. Those folks ought to be checking into those types of resources,” he said.

Be prepared for all emergencies and disasters at


Do’s and Don’ts During a Flood


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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