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TVA preparing for anticipated massive North Alabama rainfall

TVA has been spilling or sluicing water from its tributary reservoirs to create more storage for expected rainfall.

Posted: Feb 18, 2019 1:57 PM
Updated: Feb 18, 2019 6:58 PM

According to TVA, 1,000,000 gallons of water are being moved through the Guntersville Dam every second, because major flooding is expected in North Alabama.

The Guntersville Dam is nearly 30 feet high right now, and a spokesperson with TVA said that’s because of how quickly they're moving the water. The last time the authority expected major flooding like this was in December 2015. That's when the area got double the amount of rain it normally sees in the entire month of December, in just one week.

TVA released this information Monday afternoon:

TVA River Management teams continue to work closely with other public safety partners across the Valley to prepare for expected high rainfall and potential flooding across the region and to keep the public informed.

Get the latest weather information from the WAAY 31 weather team here

“After record rainfall in 2018, we are seeing much of the same so far in early 2019,” said James Everett, senior manager for TVA’s River Forecast Center. “With above average rainfall totals on already-saturated ground possible next week, we are moving lots of water through the system to create as much storage as possible in our reservoirs while also limiting flows to protect downstream areas.”

Everett says multiple rounds of moisture moving up from the Gulf of Mexico could bring 5 to 10 inches of rainfall to parts of the Valley through next weekend, with heavier amounts possible locally. Rainfall intensity is expected to increase Tuesday through Thursday and continue into the weekend.

As it works to manage the unusually high amounts of rainfall, TVA is working to continually provide the latest information about this unfolding weather event.

“Providing accurate and timely information to the public is a high priority for us,” said Tom Barnett, general manager for River Management. “TVA prevents about $250 million in flood damage across the region each year. Though we cannot prevent all flooding during exceptional events like these, we do strive to keep the public informed about our actions to minimize the impacts so that everyone can better prepare.”

The latest river stage information can be found at:

Whitesburg, AL: http://tva.me/Ud3U50lEFh5
Florence, AL: http://tva.me/PCeS50lEFha
Savannah, TN: http://tva.me/z48H50lEFh7

Preparations Have Been Underway

TVA has been monitoring this system closely since early last week and spilling or sluicing water from its tributary reservoirs – including Apalachia, Cherokee, Douglas, Melton Hill and Norris – to create more storage for expected rainfall. At the same time, TVA has been spilling water through all dams on the main stem of the Tennessee River to accommodate the tributary releases to come. TVA continues to manage releases from Kentucky Dam to support flood control operations on the Ohio River.

Once the heaviest rains arrive, TVA will use the storage space it has created in the tributary reservoirs to hold back water as it manages high flows along the main stem. Even so, the heavy rains expected could raise both tributary and main stem reservoirs to summer pool or above later this week.

What to Expect this Week

In partnership with the National Weather Service, TVA continues to monitor and update forecasts and will adjust releases and other river management actions accordingly.

TVA river management activities — including spilling, sluicing, hydro generation and reducing flows at some locations — will be ongoing at tributary and main stem sites across the valley. Water release strategies will be updated around the clock by TVA’s River Forecast Center staff as the rainfall forecast develops.

Expected impacts across the Valley this week include:

Tributaries may rise to summer pool or higher, especially Blue Ridge, Chatuge, Fontana, Hiwassee, Norris, Nottelly, and South Holston.

Levels on the Tennessee River main stem river pools will also rise sharply in response to heavy rain.

Chattanooga will see elevated river levels but is expected to remain below flood stage. Depending on rainfall, levels could rise to near flood stage by Friday.

Significant flooding, resulting from some of the highest river levels in decades, is expected in North Alabama and below Pickwick Dam from Savannah to Johnsonville.

TVA will coordinate releases from Kentucky Dam with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to support the Corp’s management of the Ohio River. As a result, Kentucky Reservoir could rise above summer pool.

There may be significant flooding along the unregulated portions of rivers below dams, especially Tims Ford Dam on the Elk River and Normandy Dam on the Duck River, as well as other locations in western North Carolina and north Georgia, including Copperhill and McCaysville.

High water flows could force lock closures on all lower main stem rivers to protect public safety and transportation.

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