Rice monitoring tropical weather system

As weather forecasters anticipate that a tropical disturbance in the Gulf will develop into Tropical Storm Bill, the National Weather Service has issued a flash-flood watch for Houston and other parts of Southeast Texas that goes into effect tonight through Wednesday evening. Rice’s Crisis Management Team is monitoring the situation and will communicate via rice.edu, text and Rice’s emergency phone line (713-348-8888) if conditions warrant a change in the university’s operating status.

flooded roads

Heavy rains caused flooding in parts of Houston in late May. (Photo by Brandon Martin)

In the meantime, below are safety tips about the dangers of flooding that were issued by the Regional Joint Information Center, a collaboration of emergency management partner organizations in the Greater Harris County area, and posted at www.readyharris.org.

What is the danger?

Driving, walking, swimming or playing in floodwaters is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious injury or death. Harris County residents are urged to stay out of flooded areas.

What you need to know:

Generally, floods kill more people in the United States than other types of severe weather.

  • Nearly 50 percent of all flash-flood fatalities nationwide involve vehicles. Saving your life can be as easy as turning your car around when you see water on the road.
  • Never attempt to drive through flooded roadways. It is often impossible to determine the depth or current of water covering roads. Just 12-24 inches of moving water can sweep a vehicle from the road or into a creek or bayou. Water rescues are difficult, uncertain and dangerous to first responders.
  • Even in relatively shallow water, tires can act as flotation devices by lifting up big vehicles and sending them downstream. It takes only 2 feet of water to float a 3,000-pound car.
  • During floods, alligators, snakes, rodents and other wildlife are displaced from their homes and may be present in floodwaters. Contact with these creatures can cause serious injury or even death.
  • Be aware that water covering roadways may hide washed-out bridges or gouged-out roadbeds. If you attempt to drive across, you may not be driving on a road.
  • During rainy weather, be alert and stay tuned to local radio or TV.
  • Do not attempt to cross flooded roads or streams on foot. It can take as little as 6 inches of water to knock an adult off his or her feet, and water may be flowing more rapidly than it appears.
  • Never allow children to play near ditches and storm drains.
  • During stormy weather, do not camp or park vehicles along streams or washes.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flood dangers.

Where you can learn more:


Turn around, don’t drown



About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.