published Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Rainy prediction puts damper on Independence Day plans

The roof of the stage is shown before being lifted at Coolidge Park for the upcoming POPs Concert.
The roof of the stage is shown before being lifted at Coolidge Park for the upcoming POPs Concert.
Photo by Staff Report /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Poll
Have you changed your 4th of July plans because of weather?

THE OUTLOOK

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for East Tennessee, in effect until Friday evening. Northwest Georgia is under a flash flood watch from this morning through Friday morning.

Today: Temperatures in the low 80s, scattered showers in the morning with a growing chance of thunderstorms toward evening

Thursday: Chance of rain close to 100 percent, highs in the mid- to upper 70s

Friday: Chance of rain close to 100 percent, highs in the upper 70s

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, highs in the mid-to upper 80s, scattered showers and thunderstorms

WASHOUTS

Today:

• Fort Oglethorpe

• Collegedale's fireworks have been rescheduled for Sept. 1

Thursday:

• Soddy Daisy's fireworks have been rescheduled for Oct. 5

  • photo
    Lee Arnold (Left) and Shawn Gooding set up the stage on Tuesday for the upcoming POPs Concert to be held Wednesday evening at Coolidge Park.
    Photo by Shawn Paik.
    enlarge photo

Mother Nature might just steal the show this holiday week. The rain forecast for the next few days will push the rainfall surplus in the region even higher and has prompted several communities to cancel their July Fourth festivities.

"It's going to be a washout for a lot of Fourth of July events. It could be one of the wettest fourths we've ever had," said Paul Barys, chief meteorologist for WRCB-TV Channel 3. "It's going to be really heavy."

Fort Oglethorpe on Tuesday canceled tonight's big band and fireworks ensemble, citing the projected foul weather.

"The weather got us this year," said Chris McKeever, organizer of the annual event put on by the Fort Oglethorpe Tourism Association. She said the association might hold a fireworks show later this year.

Both Soddy-Daisy and Collegedale rescheduled their fireworks shows for later in the year.

Officials with Lake Winnie couldn't be reached for comment on the status of their fireworks celebration.

The Signal Mountain Lions Club Fourth of July barbecue will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A decision about the fireworks at dusk will be made this morning.

One of the biggest Fourth celebrations, tonight's Pops on the River, is scheduled to go on as planned. The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's Coolidge Park concert and fireworks show will be held at 8 p.m. at 150 River St. The concert will feature patriotic and traditional songs, and fireworks will follow at 9:45, according to a Pops on the River news release.

"Fireworks ... will also continue as planned except in the case of pouring rain," the release states.

Forecasters said residents will see scattered showers and thunderstorms steadily grow heavier as the day goes on. By tonight, the chance of rain is near 100 percent. The heavy rains will continue through Friday evening.

Barys said this week's severe weather is due, in part, to the dry heat out west.

"It's like a big heat bubble; it redirects the jet stream from the Northwest, causing a low-pressure system to cover the Southeast," he said.

One Chattanooga resident hopes the city will go on with its annual pyrotechnics.

"We look forward to it every year," Angelina Tidwell said Tuesday during a visit to Miller Plaza. "Some people can't afford to buy fireworks, and [the city's show] is the only way for their kids to see them."

VIDEO

This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

PET SAFETY

Because fireworks displays often frighten animals, pet owners are encouraged to put dogs and cats in the house or provide shelter in a fenced area. In addition, owners should make sure pets have adequate identification in case they run away. One simple solution: Use translucent tape to secure a return address label to a pet's collar.

Others had no problem with the prospect of fireworks cancellations.

"I haven't been to a fireworks show in 30 years," said Albert Greer, a Chattanooga resident. "I'm afraid somebody might use [a fireworks show] as an excuse to shoot somebody. You can't tell fireworks from a gun."

Greer added that the explosives themselves can be harmful if mishandled.

"I've seen fireworks set dry grass on fire. I've seen those little rockets hit little kids. If it were up to me, we wouldn't have them anymore," he said.

The area saw record rainfall for July Fourth in 1998, with more than 2 inches of rain. Barys said that record could easily be broken this week. Projected rainfall for the next few days is from 2 to 5 inches.

So far this year, the region has received more than 39 inches of rain, 12 inches above the average rainfall of 27 inches six months into the year.

Temperatures for the week will be much lower than last year, when they hit a blistering 107 degrees on July 1, 2012.

"Everything's the opposite of what it was last year," Barys said. "This system is keeping it really cool and wet."

Derek Eistentrout, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Morristown, said temperatures for the week will be in the upper 70s and lower 80s through Friday.

By Saturday, the patterns of heavy rain should slow, with only scattered showers and thunderstorms expected. Temperatures will bounce back to the mid- to upper 80s, Eisentrout said.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at 423-757-6731 or agreen@timesfreepress.com.

Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at 423-757-6592 or lburkholder@timesfreepress.

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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