Editorial: Be prepared with sandbags, exit plan during flood watch

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Long-awaited monsoon weather appears to have arrived, much to everyone's relief after such a long dry spell and amid worries of facing another disastrous fire season.

Yes, we need he moisture to dampen the forest and wildlands and give homeowners a break from watering their landscapes.

But rains can bring a downside, and that is the danger of flooding. Yarnell and Oak Creek Canyon come to mind. Fires have destroyed much vegetation in their areas, making pathways for water to run rampant.

People whose homes are at risk of flooding should take the appropriate precautions, namely sandbagging places where floodwaters could gush into their houses.

There is a difference between a flash flood warning and a flood watch. The National Weather Service advises when it issues a flash flood warning that it is time to take action because a flash flood is imminent or occurring. In a word, get to higher ground.

A flood watch from the National Weather Service means to be prepared, because conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. It doesn't mean flooding will occur, only that it is possible.

When the National Weather Service issues a flood advisory, this is simply information about a weather event in the forecast that may become a nuisance but is not expected to become bad enough to issue a warning. However, the weather service says such an event could cause significant inconvenience but at the same time, people should be cautious.

All of Yavapai County was under a flash flood watch for much of the day on Thursday. People who live near streams and washes were advised to be watchful when the storm moved into the area.

Hopefully, when these warnings come along, especially during summer when torrents can hit any time, people take heed.

But there are always those who get into trouble - these are the folks who think they can drive through a wash, ignoring "low-water crossing" signs and barricades, and end up having to be rescued by fire departments or other first responders.

This is why Arizona has a "stupid motorist law" that penalizes drivers who insist upon driving into rushing water, get stuck and have to be pulled to safety. They have put themselves at risk, along with rescue crews.

How vigorously this law is enforced is an unknown, but consider this as a reminder that motorists have to use their heads.

Trying to drive through a rising stream or wash is foolish and not worth taking such a dangerous chance.

Pay attention to barricades and find another route to take. It's that simple.