High Flood Potential? Read This!
Tips on Finding Information During Periods of High Flood Potential

Residents are urged to monitor on-line flood forecast information, television and radio news broadcasts, and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio reports. Stream-side residents should pay close attention to water levels and be ready to evacuate, if necessary.

Improvements in flood warning technology and communications have led to a number of useful products that can be used by residents and emergency managers during periods of above-normal flood potential.

Emergency manager web pages have been developed by both the Binghamton, N.Y. and Mt. Holly, N.J. offices of the National Weather Service (NWS). These can be accessed, along with additional hydrological information, from the DRBC web site.

When flood crests are predicted, they are posted by the NWS Mt. Holly office for the portion of the basin downstream of the Delaware Water Gap (near Stroudsburg, Pa.) at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/marfc/Forecasts/PHI_index.html and by the NWS Binghamton office for the area upstream of the Delaware Water Gap at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/marfc/Forecasts/BGM_index.html.

Graphical river flood forecasts also are available for the upper Delaware Basin (upstream of the Delaware Water Gap) and for the lower Delaware Basin. These products are best viewed using the Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser. The web pages provide an interactive map of river flood forecast points. Clicking on the forecast point of interest (for example, the Delaware River at Trenton) provides a graph showing the forecast river stage. The dark blue line indicates OBSERVED values and the green dots/lines are NWS-FORECASTED values. The accompanying text provides an explanation of the graph, lists the stages reached by the largest floods of record, and lists known impacts from specific stages of flooding. The products have resulted from development of the NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) program, which incorporates advances in Doppler Radar technology, runoff modeling, and computer technology to provide improved, graphically based flood forecast products.

In addition, flood inundation maps are now available for the following NWS AHPS river forecast points on the main stem Delaware River: Matamoras/Port Jervis, Montague, Belvidere, Easton, Riegelsville, Frenchtown, Stockton, New Hope-Lambertville, and Trenton. These are the first inundation maps to be implemented in the Mid-Atlantic Region and provide information on the spatial extent and estimated depth of flood waters in the vicinity of NWS river forecast locations. Users can display flood inundation maps for various levels ranging from minor flooding through the largest observed flood. Flood inundation maps, combined with river observations and NWS forecasts, enhance the communication of flood risk and provide users additional information needed to better mitigate the impacts of flooding and plan for more resilient communities. A guide (pdf 25 MB) has been prepared by the NWS to help you use the inundation maps.

The NWS National Operational Remote Sensing Center makes daily snow pack estimates and posts them on its web site at http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/. These estimates and other snow pack observations by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and New York City are used by the NWS along with rainfall forecasts in its runoff modeling to develop river flood crest forecasts.

On-line stream flow information is made available for each of the Delaware River Basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) by the U.S. Geological Survey. This information may be accessed from the DRBC web site.

Those living in urban areas or along small streams not covered by river flood forecasts can find NWS guidance on flash flood potential for their respective states at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/marfc/Water/#ffg. The tables show the amount of rain necessary over a specified period of time to cause small stream and urban flooding. Warning lead times are short for flooding in these areas and the NWS must issue small stream and urban flood watches based on forecast precipitation, flash flood guidance, and available real time precipitation data. Flash flood warning statements may be found at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/national.php?prodtype=flashflood.

The following general guidance is applicable during periods of high flood potential:

  • If located in a flood plain, have a plan ready for moving personal property and pets if a flood warning is issued, and for finding shelter if an evacuation is ordered;
  • Stay tuned to local T.V. and radio news broadcasts, and monitor on-line information sources;
  • Monitor flood forecast information on NOAA weather radio;
  • Do not drive on flooded roadways;
  • Make sure sump pumps are operating properly; and
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are not blocked

A number of public organizations offer tips on preparations for flooding. This information is available on the DRBC web site. In addition, a number of home insurance company web sites provide guidance on flood preparedness.

All residents located in flood plain areas should consider the purchase of flood insurance. This is the only way property owners can be certain that losses they sustain from river flooding will be covered. Disaster money available for flood recovery is expected to become increasingly limited.

The DRBC hosts a Flood Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from 18 different flood loss reduction organizations in the Delaware River Basin. This committee provides recommendations and suggested strategies to the DRBC for the reduction of flood losses in the basin. Its primary objective is to assess, evaluate, and recommend improvements in the basin's flood warning system. Effective flood warning is critical to minimize the loss of life and property during flood events. Continued enhancement of an advanced basinwide flood warning system will lead to improvements of the timeliness and accuracy of the flood forecasts and warnings in the basin.