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River flood warning in effect, yearly rainfall levels climbing to near record levels

A flood warning is in effect Friday for the Tennessee River at Savannah and the water is projected to continue to rise to moderate flood stage by Sunday afternoon.

As 2018 draws to a close, yearly rainfall totals for the TVA region continue to climb to near record levels, and the trend for above average rainfall totals continues right up to year’s end.
“For the week before Christmas, rainfall averaged 2 inches in the eastern Valley and 1.4 inches in the western Valley,” said James Everett, senior manager for TVA’s River Forecast Center. “We began spilling and sluicing at several locations the day after Christmas to increase flows and increase flood storage capacity, and that will likely continue into the New Year.”
Everett said TVA is spilling or sluicing this week through gates at Pickwick, South Holston, Wilbur, Cherokee, Douglas, Norris, Fontana, Apalachia, Ocoee 3, Great Falls, Fort Loudoun, Watts Bar, Chickamauga, Nickajack, Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson and Kentucky  reservoirs. Most dams along the main stem Tennessee River have been in spill operations since mid-November and will likely be spilling well into 2019.
Friday afternoon, 1.4 million gallons of water per second were spilling at Pickwick, TVA said.
“Looks like 2018 is going to end with the same thing we’ve seen most of the year: rain,” said Everett. “It’s possible further gate changes will be needed this last week of the year and into next week to adjust for changes in rainfall predictions.”
The current forecast calls for rainfall continuing through Friday night. Total accumulations of 1 to 4 inches are expected with the heaviest amounts in the mountains of western North Carolina and north Georgia. Another round of heavy rain is also currently forecast for early next week with additional 2-3 inch totals.
Rainfall since Oct. 1 is more than 140 percent of normal and runoff more than 200 percent of normal, Everett said, boosted by hurricanes Florence and Michael and winter storm Diego. Regional rainfall totals for the year over the 41,000-square-mile Tennessee River Valley have exceeded 62 inches, placing 2018 in the Top 10 all time for yearly rainfall in the TVA region.
Expected rains the last week of 2018 could possibly break the previous annual rainfall record of 65.1 inches set in 1973. The Tennessee Valley region normally averages 51 inches of rain a year.
“2018 has certainly been a rainy year, and it looks like that will continue right up to New Year’s Day,” Everett said. “We are ready for it and looking forward to continuing to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley in 2019.”

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