How can I find out how severe a flood is likely to be?

There are three flood severity categories used by the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS). They are minor flooding, moderate flooding, and major flooding. Each category has a definition based on probable property damage and the threat to public safety. Once a river reaches flood stage (the point where water has risen enough to cause damage), the NWS issues warnings.

Minor Flooding
minimal or no property damage; possibly some personal inconvenience or public threat
Moderate Flooding
some inundation (being covered by water) of structures and roads near streams; evacuations of people living in these targeted areas; necessary transfer of some property to higher elevations
Major Flooding
extensive inundation of structures and roads; large-scale evacuations of people; significant transfer of property to higher elevations

These flood severity categories are established in cooperation with local public officials for each river forecast location.   Impacts vary from one river location to another because a certain flood stage in one location may have an entirely different impact on the surrounding area than the same flood stage at another river forecast location.

Source: NOAA and NWS

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