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Local News

Wet blanket: Remnants of Lee soak region

September 5th, 2011 10:41 pm by Madison Mathews

While many people were hoping for bright blue skies and a chance to take full advantage of Labor Day by spending some time on the lake or having a barbecue in the back yard, Mother Nature had other plans.
Tropical Storm Lee put a damper on Monday’s celebrations as a constant stream of storms moved throughout the region.
Beginning overnight Monday, the remnants of Lee collided with a cold front that was moving throughout the area, creating a sort of “focusing mechanism” that kept the rain falling nearly all day long, according to Derek Eisentrout, a representative with the National Weather Service in Morristown.
“This amount of rainfall is unusual any time of the year. This is remnants of a tropical storm system that was coming off the Gulf Coast. This is just uncommon,” Eisentrout said.
Once Lee moved on shore, it became a low pressure system that carried a massive amount of precipitation with it, according to Eisentrout.
While the rainfall for the Tri-Cities was measured at a little more than an inch for a 24-hour period, Eisentrout said other areas in Tennessee have seen a lot more.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Knoxville had just over 3 1/2 inches of rainfall, while Chattanooga set a precipitation record with a little more than 8 inches — a first since 1886, Eisentrout said.
The bulk of Lee’s rainfall was expected to taper off by this morning, but Eisentrout said sporadic showers were expected to continue throughout much of the week.
“We are going to get an unstable pattern of shower chances everyday, but the main precipitation event is today and overnight tonight,” he said.
A flash flood watch is in effect for much of the Southern Appalachian region, including Johnson City, Elizabethton and Erwin, through Tuesday evening.
In addition to the flash flood watch, the NWS has also issued a flood warning for the Nolichucky River, which could affect Embreeville, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Unicoi and Washington counties. It remains in effect until this evening.
Despite the constant rainfall Monday, emergency dispatchers in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties said the rain didn’t cause any major traffic problems. The area also managed to escape any severe flooding.
A Carter County dispatcher said there were some reports of downed trees near Tester Road in Elizabethton.
Today’s forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of precipitation, with a low around 59 and a high near 74.

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