Cars Can't Swim - Driving In Flash Floods - Safe Driving Tips






Metro Chicago’s North and Northwest areas got doused with rain last night and this morning.  Flash Flood warnings from the National Weather Service have been dispatched since last night and are continuing into this evening.

Northwest Suburban Palatine received over 2″ inches of water this morning.

So what is the big deal with 2″ of rainfall? Chicago has certainly received 6-8″+ inches of rain in storms, without catastrophe.

The big deal with Flash Flooding is the rapid rate of rainfall over a short time, exceeding storm sewer capacity, which maxes out at about 1.5″ inches per hour. Think of a clogged kitchen sink drain!


This is what the intersection of Colfax and Smith Streets in Palatine looked like at about 9:30 a.m. this morning after the rainfall stopped.


And this is what the same intersection looked like by 10:30 a.m.:



The water level on the blue Acura TL sedan has risen from just above the floor of the car (approximately 8″-inches) to the door window opening, (approximately 24″ above ground level)!



For those who drive SUVs and believe that standing water driving caution doesn’t apply to them, the above photo demonstrates what happened when the driver of an Audi Q5 crossover, with 8″ of ground clearance attempted to ford through the intersection. If you think speeding through standing water improves chances of surpassing the standing water think again. (In the end the fire department had to rescue the driver and other passenger in the Audi Q5, which is now unquestionably a total loss.

Surprising Flood Statistic: Flooding causes more fatalities than any other weather event. Annually in the U.S., there are over 200 flood related deaths. More than 50% of the victims were in a flood trapped vehicle!

One more important risk about high standing waters applies to pedestrians too. Streets are lined with street lights and traffic signals receiving their electrical power from underground wires. If the wires are live and exposed to water, an un-grounded human risks injury or death by electrocution.


OK Class, repeat after “Drive…He Said”:


“I promise never, ever, ever to drive through high standing water, even if I drive an SUV. And I will always look to park my car on high ground when a Flash Flood Warning is transmitted.”

Leave a comment