Deviations from two-dimensionality of a shallow flow that is dominated by bottom friction are quantified in terms of the spatial distribution of strain and vorticity as described by the Okubo-Weiss function. This result is based on a Poisson equation for the pressure in a quasi-horizontal (primary) flow. It is shown that the Okubo-Weiss function specifies vertical pressure gradients, which for their part drive vertical (secondary) motion. An asymptotic expansion of these gradients based on the smallness of the vertical to horizontal scale ratio demonstrates that the sign and magnitude of secondary circulation inside the fluid layer is dictated by the signs and magnitude of the Okubo-Weiss function. As a consequence of this, secondary motion as well as nonzero horizontal divergence do also depend on the strength, i.e., the Reynolds number of the primary flow. The theory is exemplified by two generic vortical structures (monopolar and dipolar structures). Most importantly, the theory can be applied to more complicated turbulent shallow flows in order to assess the degree of twodimensionality using measurements of the free-surface flow only.