Types of Flooding

Whether you’re currently looking for a new property or you’re seeking out flood insurance for your current property, it’s extremely important that you’re aware of the different types of floods and the risks they pose. Not all floods are the same, with each type varying in how it’s forecast and the potential damage it can cause to your property. Below are some of the most common types of flooding you should be aware of.

Fluvial (River Flooding)

Fluvial flooding is a very common type of flooding that usually occurs when heavy rainfall causes a river to overflow, although it can also be caused by heavy snow melt as well as ice jams. Damage that occurs from fluvial flooding can be considerable since it’s not uncommon for the overflow to cause dams to burst.

There are two main types of fluvial flooding. The first is overbank flooding, where the water from the river overflows over the edges of the riverbank. The second, and less common type of fluvial flooding, is flash flooding. Flash flooding occurs when there’s a very sudden and large torrent of water that pours into the river channel. This can be very dangerous and destructive since large debris is often caught up in theflow of water.


Pluvial, or surface flooding, occurs when there’s a large downpour of rain and the flooding is not caused by an existing body of water. It’s an extremely common misconception that in order for your property to be at serious risk of flooding, it must be located nearby a large body of water. Pluvial flooding shows this to be untrue since it can occur in any urban area, even those that are located above river floodplains.

Pluvial flooding occurs when either the local drainage system is overwhelmed and starts to overflow; or when water run off from nearby hillsides cannot be absorbed. In either case, pluvial flooding can cause considerable damage to your property.


Coastal flooding (surge flooding) occurs when there is severe weather that results in extreme tidal conditions. Hurricanes that push the water onshore are the most common cause of coastal flooding and the devastation caused as a result often results in deaths and complete destruction of property. Coastal flooding has three categorizations – minor, moderate and major. Minor coastal flooding will result in some beach erosion but with no damage expected. Moderate coastal flooding results in more serious beach erosion and some damage to nearby property. Major coastal flooding will result in large-scale beach erosion as well as road flooding and serious danger to people and property.


Groundwater flooding occurs as a result of water rising from underlying rocks in an area. It usually happens after an abnormally heavy and sustained period of rainfall, which causes the water table to rise above normal levels.

Properties in low-lying areas are at most risk of groundwater flooding and it’s estimated that a few hundred thousand properties in the UK are vulnerable to it.

Flash Floods

Flash floods happen when there is a sudden and heavy downpouring of rain that overhwelms the drainage systems. Flash floods can also easily cause rivers and other bodies of water to overflow, particularly when they are very narrow and cannot absorb water well.

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