Providence is experiencing an increase in extreme weather events due to the impacts of climate change. Notably, we are experiencing more intense and frequent rainfall in the Providence area, causing rivers to overflow, our storm drainage system to quickly hit capacity, and for flash flooding events to happen across the city. It’s important to prepare for these extreme weather events, including flash flooding, hurricanes and tropical storms. Sign up for CodeRED and PVD311 for the latest extreme storm alerts and use the following guides and tips to create a plan for where you will shelter during a storm, such as at home or with friends or family.
Understand Your Flood Risk
Flooding the most common and costly hazard in New England and certain parts of Providence are more likely to flood than others. Learn about your home or business’ flood risk with the following resources:
Flash flooding can occur with little to no notice, and can be a dangerous and life threatening hazard. If a Flash Flood Warning is issued, take immediate action. Avoid flood-prone areas, do not drive unless absolutely necessary- and NEVER walk, drive, play, or swim in floodwaters. If you need emergency assistance dial 911. To report non-emergency flood issues, dial 311 or use the 311 app. Important notes about floodwaters:
- If a flood warning is issued, leave flood-prone areas immediately.
- Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
- A foot of water will float many vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-up trucks.
- Use caution when dealing with flood waters. Flood waters may contain snakes and insects; sharp objects and debris; and oil, gasoline, industrial waste, or raw sewage.
To avoid illness and injury from floodwaters, PEMA suggests the following:
- Keep children and pets from playing in flood water.
- Clean all items touched by floodwaters, including children’s toys. Use one cup of household bleach in five gallons of water.
- Throw away items that cannot be washed such as mattresses, stuffed animals, baby toys, and wood cutting boards, as well as food that may have come into contact with flood waters.
- Wash hands often with soap and clean water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Seek immediate attention if you become injured or ill.
- To protect your family and yourself, avoid floodwaters if possible.
Know Where to Seek Shelter
If a storm comes and a mandatory evacuation is not ordered for your location, decide whether to shelter in place or seek shelter elsewhere.
- Gather what you’ll need to shelter in place or evacuate ahead of time.
- Know if you live in a pre-designated hurricane evacuation zone.
- Prepare for water and power outages.
- Make a plan ahead of time of where to seek shelter: Will you stay with family or friends? Will you go to a shelter if they are open?
- Sign up for CodeRED and monitor local media to know what shelters will be open.
- Refer to our storm cleanup information for guidelines and contact information on how to report and clean up downed trees and damaged property.
- Refer to our power outages information on how to report and check the status of an outage.
Tropical weather begins with a low-pressure area of circulating winds over water. A system can develop into a:
Tropical depression: winds of 38 miles per hour (mph) or less
Tropical storm: winds between 39 and 73 mph
Hurricane: winds of 74 mph or more. Hurricanes are given a category—1 through 5—based on wind speed. The higher the winds, the higher the category.
Storm Watches and Warnings
The National Weather Service issues tropical storm, flash flood, and hurricane watches and warnings to alert the public of potential hazardous conditions. It is important to understand the difference between a watch and a warning so you know what to do to stay safe.
Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.
Flash Flood Watch: Flash Flooding is possible within the next 24 hours.
Hurricane and Tropical Storm Warning – Complete protective actions and decide on the safest location to shelter during the storm.
Hurricane Warning: sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 36 hours or less.
Tropical Storm Warning: sustained winds of 39 to 74 mph are expected within 36 hours or less.
Flash Flood Warning: flash flooding is expected in the next hour.