From the Office of Emergency Management – Nashville

Heavy rains can cause flash flooding in streams and tributaries with little warning, and create potentially dangerous situations for residents, motorists and pedestrians. In fact, most flood-related casualties are due to underestimating inherent dangers. Flood waters less than knee deep can easily sweep you away, and shallow levels of water (six inches to a foot) over a road can float many vehicles.

flood watch means flooding is possible in your area.

flash flood watch means flash flooding is possible.

flood warning means flooding is occurring or will occur soon.

flash flood warning means a flash flood is occurring.

To avoid potentially dangerous situations during flooding:

  • Stay informed on the weather conditions via your NOAA Weather Radio, local radio or television stations.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If a flash flood watch or warning is issued, immediately move to higher ground.
  • Do not try to drive or walk through flood waters. The depth of water is not always obvious, the road may be washed out and you might not see it.
  • If floodwaters rise around your vehicle, immediately abandon the car and if safe to do so – move to higher ground.
  • Avoid walking through moving water. Six inches can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving, using a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Take the safest routes possible, do not drive around barricades, they are there for your protection, turn around.
  • Be especially cautious driving at night, as it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Avoid taking any unnecessary risks.
  • If you have to evacuate or travel on the road, know your route and the condition of it, and take your emergency kit with you.

The CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response also has provided this very useful infographic.