The National Weather Service has a variety of flood forecast and warning tools that can provide you with critical advance notice of floods. These tools include maps and graphs that can help you know when rivers near you are going to flood, and to what extent.
To use these tools, first identify the stream gage nearest you. You can do that here. Once you zoom in and find the gage nearest you, click on the button for that gage, and you will see a “hydrograph,” or a chart that shows you current river levels. If a flood is predicted in your area, the hydrograph will also show you predicted flood levels and timing. It is a good idea to bookmark this page and check it regularly during times when the river level is rising or expected to flood.
Additionally, if you sign up for RSS feed alerts, you will receive notice to your Internet browser, RSS reader, email, and if you have one, smart phone email, when a flood watch or warning is issued.
This video will provide you an overview of how to sign up for “flood alerts” using an RSS feed.
National Weather Service employees themselves say not to wait until a formal “Flood Warning” is issued to start getting prepared: that may be too late. Instead, keep abreast of river levels, so you have plenty of time to prepare your go-kit and evacuate if needed.
Check with your local municipality or county to see whether they offer any additional notifications of extreme weather, including flooding. Some communities offer a reverse 911, for which you may have to sign up in advance, or use other commercially available services to alert residents of impending dangerous weather.
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