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Floodwaters Did What to a Tractor-Trailer?


It’s that time of year again; tornadoes and heavy storms are once again battering the middle of the country. It was a dark and stormy afternoon in mid-April when a tractor-trailer hauling cottonseed hulls attempted to drive through rushing floodwaters just north of Geary. The force of the moving water pushed the truck sideways across the road and into a drainage ditch, where it overturned.

Watch the video by CLICKING HERE.

Luckily, no injuries were reported and the oilfield supplies remained intact in their containers.

How it happened

Recent spates of storms have saturated the ground, preventing the remaining water from being absorbed and resulting in flash flooding that creates life-threatening conditions. With running water, six inches is the magic number. Just six inches of flowing water can knock a grown adult off their feet, and it’s high enough to reach the bottom of most passenger cars (where it can wreak all kinds of havoc).

But it’s not the height of the water that matters so much; it’s the force that it carries. Consider, just for a moment, how much work it would take to push a fully loaded big rig sideways across a road and into a ditch. Using manpower alone, it’s next to impossible, but just over a foot of flowing water can accomplish the task in no time flat.

Flooding claims an average of 75 lives every year in the United States. Sometimes, fatalities are unavoidable; during flash floods, water levels can rise more than a foot in just five minutes. In certain cases (depending on geography), levels can rise up to 30 feet almost instantly. However, many fatalities and near misses are the result of attempting to cross flowing water on foot or in a vehicle. says that:

  • Water flowing at 7 mph has the equivalent force per unit area as air blowing at [Category] EF5 tornado wind speeds.
  • Water moving at 25 mph has the pressure equivalent of wind blowing at 790 mph, faster than the speed of sound [emphasis added].
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, water one foot deep typically exerts 500 pounds of lateral force, which could easily tip a vehicle on its side or flip it over.
  • Two feet of rushing water will carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickups. The vertical buoyancy force of about 1,500 pounds per foot of water lifts the vehicle, while a lateral force of 1,000 pounds (or more if water is flowing faster) pushes it downstream.

Big rigs are really, really big. Fully loaded, they outweigh passenger vehicles by a factor of 40; that’s why accidents involving big trucks and passenger vehicles often have disastrous consequences for victims. Serious injuries and deaths surround tractor-trailers; thankfully, this wasn’t one of those times. However, when big trucks drivers use bad judgment, victims and their families can suffer the consequences for years to come.

If you or your loved one was injured by a commercial driver’s negligence, legal action could help you recover from debilitating injuries or death. The experienced Oklahoma oilfield and commercial truck accident lawyers at Stipe Law can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Call (918) 505-7741 or contact us today for a free consultation.