40 Facts About Floods

Both natural and man-made floods can be devastating for communities both big and small. Regardless of whether heavy rains have collapsed a road or whether a Tsunami has wiped away a coastal town, flooding destroys buildings, livelihoods, and lives. Flooding is a disaster that can strike at any time, and anywhere, with no continent, and no country safe. So read on to learn 40 facts about the destruction of floods.

Fact 1: What exactly is a flood? Well, a flood occurs when an overflow of water covers land that is usually dry.

Fact 2: Floods, or flooding, is part of the hydrology area of science.

Fact 3: There are five different types of flooding:

  • Areal flooding
  • Riverine flooding
  • Urban flooding
  • Estuarine and coastal flooding
  • Catastrophic flooding

Fact 4: Areal flooding often occurs in flat areas such as fields. It’s caused mainly by the accumulation of heavy rainfall.

Fact 5: Areal flooding can be caused by a shallow water table. The underground water level can be temporarily higher than the ground level which causes localized flooding.

Fact 6: Riverine flooding is when a river floods the surrounding land.

Fact 7: Flash floods usually fall under the riverine flood type.

Fact 8: Estuarine, or Coastal flooding, is usually caused by storm surges or high tides.

Fact 9: Urban flooding is when urban areas, usually covered in concrete and other man-made materials, can’t remove water quick enough and therefore become flooded. However, any type of flooding that occurs in an urban environment can be considered urban flooding.

Fact 10: Catastrophic flooding is usually attributed to major natural or man-made disasters. Man-made disasters include collapsed dams. Natural disasters include Tsunamis and landslide induced floods.

Fact 11: A flash flood can see the volume of flowing water increased by up to 40 times in as little as 60 seconds.

Fact 12: Flash flash floods have also been known to create rolling walls of water, full of rocks and debris, that are over 6 m high.

Fact 13: Though you would think it’s unlikely considering how dry some parts of the USA are, all 50 states often experience flooding.

Fact 14: Flooding is the most widespread type of disaster across the globe.

Fact 15: Tsunamis can cause devastating floods that can reach 6 km inland from the coast.

Fact 16: Tsunamis often flood coastal towns and cities under 10 or more meters of water.

Fact 17: Small cars will float in less than 30 cm of water. Usually, the backend, where the car is lightest, floats first. Then the movable lifted backend starts to drag the front wheels.

Fact 18: 70 cm of moving water is enough to float and move pretty much any road vehicle. Except for the very largest of trucks.

Fact 19: It only takes 15 cm of water, moving at a jogging pace of 8 km/h, to knock a person over.

Fact 20: The deadliest flood in history occurred in China in 1931. The so-called Yangtze-Huai river floods claimed the lives of an estimated 2.5 to 3.7 million people.

Fact 21: 8 out of 10 of the worst floods in history, based on fatalities, happened in China.

Fact 22: The most devastating floods in USA history occurred in 1889 when the South Fork dam near Johnstown catastrophically failed.

Fact 23: When the South Fork Dam near Johnstown failed, the ensuing flood killed more than 2,200 people.

Fact 24: It caused over $17 million worth of damage at the time. That’s about half a billion dollars in today’s money.

Fact 25: Another catastrophic flood that occurred in the USA was the St. Francis Dam collapse in 1928.

Fact 26: On the night of the 12th of March 1928 the St. Francis dam catastrophically collapsed in under 10 seconds creating a surge of water 43 m high to smash its way down the valley.

Fact 27: 431 people died as a result of the dam collapse.

Fact 28: The 1607 Bristol channel flood is thought to be the most deadly flood in British history. It’s estimated to have killed 2000 people.

Fact 29: The 1607 Bristol channel flood is thought to have been caused by an abnormally high eight-meter storm surge.

Fact 30: The story of Noah and his giant ark full of animals tells of a catastrophic worldwide flood. And many historians think the flood actually did happen.

Fact 31: The Banqiao damn flood in 1975 is estimated to have directly killed 26,000 people, and indirectly killed 230,000 people.

Fact 32: 5.9 million buildings collapsed as a result of the Banqiao dam flood.

Fact 33: The wave caused by the collapse of the Banqiao dam fanned out to be 10 km wide and, in places, 10 m deep.

Fact 34: More people die each year in floods than in any other disaster type.

Fact 35: Around 5 million people in the UK are at risk of flooding each year.

Fact 36: In the Big Thompson Canyon flood of 1976, 95% of those who were killed tried to out run the onrushing water. This was impossible since the water was moving twice as fast as a human sprinter’s velocity.

Fact 37: Any road or bridge hit by flooding statistically has a 50% chance of collapsing if a vehicle crosses it.

Fact 38: In 2005, the American city of New Orleans was flooded by a storm surge created by hurricane Katrina.

Fact 39: At the height of the flooding, over 80% of New Orleans was underwater.

Fact 40: The water from the New Orleans storm surge was 4.6 m deep in many places.


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