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TVA dam system working to control flood

Nathan Baker • Apr 13, 2020 at 6:25 PM

Heavy rainfall across the South swelled rivers, flooded roads and kept Tennessee Valley Authority staff busy over the weekend trying to direct all the water.

James Everett, TVA’s senior manager of the River Forecast Center, said Monday the 2 to 5 inches of rain that fell with the severe storms contributed to this year’s higher than normal precipitation. Between January and March, the multiple-state area served by the federal agency has had its wettest period in the 131 years on record.

“About a month’s worth of rain fell last night in an 18-hour period, and that was on top of wet ground,” Everett said. “That’s what provided prime opportunities for flash flooding and high runoff.”

According to the National Weather Service, 3.52 inches of rain fell between 2 p.m. Sunday and 5 a.m. Monday at its monitoring station at the Tri-Cities Airport. Some places near Chattanooga and northern Alabama saw as much as 6 inches.

As the TVA works to control flooding, Everett said some reservoirs could reach near summer levels, as the system’s dams hold back some of the excess water.

Boone Lake, now held low for a dam repair project, could rise as much as 9-feet higher than the level set by TVA through the project.

Everett said the high water in Boone does not pose a risk to the dam and will not affect the repairs. Based on the current weather forecast, TVA expects the lake to return to normal by the end of this week.