Flash flood ~ The Philippine Mountaineering

Flash flood

Basic Flash flood Risk Management

Few weeks ago the national television and also the printed news were bombarded with news regarding flashfloods incidents related to mountaineering. The sad news is that these flashfloods happened in Mindanao and in Luzon. The news also gained much attention to our loved ones- who are always worried of our safety every time we leave our homes with our backpacks.

Mountaineering is not only a strenuous activity it is also a dangerous one, but the potential of casualties for the said dangers are all manageable. The aim of this post is to help the mountaineering community to have an idea regarding flash floods,  its causes and hazards. On this post also, we will do our best to help everyone to prevent any potential casualty from the said mountaineering risk.

Flash flood in brief definition means a sudden local flood of great volume and short duration. While if we will give a more technical definition for this, it means, a rapid flooding of geomorphic low-lying areas—washes, rivers, dry lakes and basins. It may be caused by heavy rain associated with a storm or tropical storm. Flash floods are distinguished from a regular flood by a timescale of less than six hours.

Flash flood in mountaineering has only two meanings, lessons and losses. The lessons we can gain from flash flood is either good or bad. Loss in mountaineering is any unwanted incident, we could get our resources watered or our lives good bye.

Some factors contribute to flash flooding:
Two key factors are rainfall intensity and duration. Intensity is the rate of rainfall, and duration is how long the rain lasts, flash floods occur within six hours of a rain event.

Most flash flooding is caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms repeatedly moving over the same area, or heavy rains from tropical storms.

Topography, soil conditions, and ground cover also play important roles. As forest land is converted to kaingin site (e.g. Sierra madre), farm lots (e.g. Pulag) and other selfish acts, it loses its ability to absorb rainfall.

Urbanization increases runoff two to six times over what would occur on natural terrain.
Rampant environmental crimes (e.g. illegal logging, irresponsible mining) contribute much to the increase of possible flash floods.

How to prevent flash flood casualties:
1. Weather is good or bad. Check the weather bulletin. Visit PAGASA and other weather forecasting agencies. Also, bring small/ pocket transistor radio for weather updates.

2. Be connected. Leave your family with their blessing (no to ninja moves), inform your family regarding your destination, climb mates and expected date of return. Also, get the contacts numbers and details of all local officials to contacts in case of emergency. Always bring fully charged battery and extra battery.

3. Aim for the best, expect for the worst. Always carry the 10 Outdoor Essential as part of your backpack. Never under estimate the nature and weather.

4. Rope means life. As mountaineers we should carry rope that could save our lives. A 15-20 meters long of 9-11 mm of rope is a must bring. This is helpful for river crossing and can also help in other unwanted mountaineering experiences.

5. Be insured. This is a question for all, "are you an insured mountaineer?”

6. Buddy system. In times of unwanted incidents the natural tendency is to worry. Having a buddy that will help you in decision making is a good idea. 

7. Signal number 1 is zero climb. Some mountaineers climbs even when they already know that there is storm signal number 1. We recommend to reschedule the climb if signal warning is already given even if it is only (for some) a signal number 1. 

8. If ALREADY in the mountain, “think before you step”. Assess the condition and don't rush. If encamped and experiencing continuous raining, we suggest to extend your itinerary (always bring extra food).

9. Anti-crossing. Never cross rushing river above waist, even if you have a rope this might be the last river-crossing of your life.

10. Expect for the Worst. Develop an evacuation plan. Identify the possible alternative exit point.

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous." —Reinhold Messner.

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  1. mountaineering is a serious endeavour to consider.

  2. thanks for the comment and reminder sir/madam.


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