New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow was all over Thursday’s storms. When storms that have flash flooding potential arise, Dan often reminds us not to tempt fate by driving through high water.

Allow me to back him up on that with an anecdote.

The night Ida hit with a fury I had just gotten off work and the timing was such that I thought I could make it home fine. It was all in the bad timing. I had just gotten onto 31 North out of Trenton when it really hit the fan.

Long stretches of 31 end up being between stores and parking lots so you’ll just find woods on either side of you. The floodwaters rose so quickly and with such terrible timing it was right in these more desolate stretches of 31 that I found myself almost being swept away.

I’m not being dramatic when I tell you the water was so deep, so powerful, that had I been a younger much less experienced driver I’m certain it could have happened. The night was so unnerving I wrote about it for our site. The piece is here, called “Ida brought the scariest NJ commute I ever had.”

I should never have kept going. I should never have driven in deep water. I’m lucky the death toll was not one higher.

If my story doesn’t convince you not to drive in high water maybe these facts will.

7 reasons you should never drive through high water

Of all flood-related drownings, more than half happen when someone decides the water is not too deep to stop them and drives into it. And most of those drownings will happen while trapped inside your vehicle.

Lismore Residents Evacuate As Major Flood Warnings Issued Across NSW Northern Rivers
Getty Images

Water looks flat and even on the surface so of course, it hides dips in the road. Water that could look shallow may be covering part of a road surface that dips much deeper.

Photo by Chris Gallagher on Unsplash
Photo by Chris Gallagher on Unsplash

Just 6 inches of water can stall out most passenger vehicles and leave you stranded. Once that happens, think about the helplessness if those floodwaters keep rising.

Lismore Residents Evacuate As Major Flood Warnings Issued Across NSW Northern Rivers
Getty Images

Just 12 inches of water can cause most vehicles to lose traction and begin to float. You don’t want to know what that feels like.


Even with more of a ground clearance trucks and SUVs can have the same vulnerabilities as a car. Just don’t try it.

Closeup of high water flooding on neighborhood street.

Two feet of rushing water will sweep away most vehicles even very large SUVs.

Road Closed sign due to high water in front of water crossing over the road

Water getting inside your engine and inside your vehicle’s interior can easily total your car. Depending on your insurance it may not be covered.

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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