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Prepare for flooding at all times in Oklahoma, experts warn

Flash floods are always a risk in Oklahoma, experts say. This is National Flood Safety Awareness Week.
by Robert Medley Published: March 16, 2012

It wasn't a normal day for water rescues in Oklahoma City.

Firefighter Josh Pearcy — assigned to the dive and water rescue team — spent June 14, 2010, in a boat that helped save 18 people, some from their homes in northeast Oklahoma City, others from trees and the tops of partially submerged vehicles.

“We've had a few of those randomly — one here, a couple there — but in one day, to do that many is astronomical for swift water rescues,” Pearcy said.

The spring rainy season is not the only time of year in Oklahoma flash floods are a risk, Pearcy said. But as spring nears, the boats and personal watercraft stand ready.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its outlook for nationwide spring flooding Thursday. The outlook for flooding is the lowest it has been in the past four years, according to a news release on the NOAA website.

No areas of the country face high risk of major spring flooding due to a limited winter snowfall, according to NOAA's annual spring outlook, which forecasts the potential for flooding from April to June.

In Oklahoma, there is a potential for heavy rain late Sunday through Tuesday, said Rick Smith, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman.

Drought doesn't matter

Despite months of drought conditions, floods are still possible, Smith said.

Gary McManus, of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey in Norman, said about half of Oklahoma remains in a drought. Yet, the most dangerous floods in Oklahoma are flash floods that can happen whether Oklahoma is in a period of heavy rain or drought.

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by Robert Medley
Breaking News Reporter
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma...
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