U.S. Water News Online
WICHITA, Kan. -- In response to a flash flood that killed
six people on the Kansas Turnpike last Labor Day weekend, the
National Weather Service in Wichita has sought to increase
dispatchers' and weather spotters' awareness of high water.
The Wichita branch sent three-ring binders with information about
flooding to dispatchers in the 26 counties in its warning area. The
books explain to dispatchers what they should tell motorists who have
become stranded in high water, when to call the bureau and what to
Besides sending out the binders, the weather service is giving
much greater emphasis to flood safety in this year's spotter classes.
The training sessions in south-central Kansas continue into April.
The Aug. 30 flood occurred as heavy rain fell along the turnpike,
sending as much as 4 feet of water over the four-lane road. The
raging water claimed the lives of a mother and four children from
Glenaire, Mo., and a Fort Worth, Texas, man who was trying to save
Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist for the Wichita
branch of the National Weather Service, cited a lack of communication
as one of the main problems with that event.
``Two phone calls could have saved everyone's lives,'' Hayes said.
Weather service meteorologists should have monitored conditions
more closely that night, he said, and dispatchers should have
contacted the weather service once flooding had been reported. Also,
Hayes said, the tragedy would have been avoided had everyone caught
in the rising water followed proper flash flood safety measures and
left their vehicles for higher ground.
Hayes said many people think they can drive through water that is
standing or flowing over a road, only to be swept away.
``It only takes six inches of water to knock you off your feet,''
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