How Do Floods Occur?

By | January 9, 2013

How Asking this Question Can Help You Protect Yourself

The question “how do floods occur” is commonly asked, but it comes with many possible answers. The truth is, floods are extremely unpredictable. Flooding can be the result of a single particular cause, but most of the time, floods occur due to a string of events and several contributive factors. This is the reason why floods are usually uncontrollable and are difficult to prevent, despite the flood defenses rigorous put up by local governments and communities.

The different causes of flooding can be categorized into two: natural and manmade, or those caused by human activity. However, more often than not, floods result from a combination of these two types of flood causes.

Since geographical landscape, climate, and ongoing flood protection projects differ for each location, different places experience floods differently. Despite the unpredictability of floods, it is important for homeowners to learn about its causes so they can gauge, more or less, how floods can affect them.

Natural Causes of Flooding

Generally, floods are natural results of weather conditions. It is closely linked to the monsoon or rainy season, which bring a higher amount of rainfall. Different locations experience this season in different months of the year. In the eastern part of the United States, for example, flooding is most common during the hurricane season, which takes place between June and November.


Floods can occur either because of continuous heavy raining, or because of the flow of water coming from the mountains. Heavy raining can pour more water into rivers and other natural waterways than they can carry, causing water to overflow and flow into the surrounding land.

Without raining, floods can occur if snow on top of mountains melt and make its way down in the form of water. The coming of spring usually brings some flooding with it due to the melting of the snow coupled with spring rains.

Human Activities that Cause Flooding

There are also some causes of flooding that man can be held responsible for. Although these may not necessarily conjure up flood from scratch, they cause flooding either by disrupting the natural flow of water through the earth or by aggravating the condition by some faulty actions.

One way of disrupting the natural water cycle is by cutting down trees, decreasing the amount of vegetation, and building homes near rivers. The water that falls onto earth in the form of rain is designed to precipitate back into the atmosphere with the help of vegetation.

Unfortunately, urbanization projects going on all over the world are capable of doing all three things at once. By turning more and more forests into metropolitan areas with little vegetation, precipitation is slowed down. Thus, if there is more than the regular amount of rainfall, the inflow will overtake the precipitation process and thus send water inland.

People also use dams as a means to stop the flow of flood. Dams are used to intercept and hold back water before they can affect the cities. Unfortunately, many floods over the years have been aggravated due to the breakdown of these dams, owing to poor engineering and construction.

Dealing with the Risk of Flooding

Due to geographical factors, some areas are simply more prone to flooding than others. Asking “how do floods occur” can inform you about these risks factors and help you protect yourself from floods.

If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, it would be a good idea to take out a flood insurance coverage for your home. Homeowners insurance rarely ever covers flood damage as part of basic home insurance, but insurance companies usually offer flood insurance as an add-on.

Check with your insurance provider whether your plan has flood insurance. If not, get an add-on coverage now. This way, you will be protected in case flooding occurs and damages your home.