published Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Rising river: More rain predicted Thursday as TVA spills more water to control flooding

Mary Kidwell, left, from Texas and her sister Barbara Edmonds from Hixson, sit and watch as water pours over the spillway at Chickamauga Dam after recent rains have caused flooding swelling the Tennessee River.
Mary Kidwell, left, from Texas and her sister Barbara Edmonds from Hixson, sit and watch as water pours over the spillway at Chickamauga Dam after recent rains have caused flooding swelling the Tennessee River.
Photo by Dan Henry.
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FORECAST

Today and Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of scattered storms with temperatures in the high 80s and lows in the 70s.

Thursday: Chance of rain jumps to 70 percent

Source: The National Weather Service

RAINFALL AMOUNTS

Rainfall each day measured at the Chattanooga airport

• July 1: .55 inches

• July 2: .01

• July 3: .08

• July 4: .98

• July 5: .27

• July 6: 2.10

• July 7: 2.21* breaks daily record set in 1928 when rainfall was 2.11.

Source: Tod Hyslop, National Weather Service, Morristown, Tenn.

Soaking rains over the weekend pushed the Tennessee River up to flood stage, and TVA's water managers are spilling as much water through dams as safely as they can, with a keen eye toward Thursday when more rain is expected.

That last bit of news isn't what some area farmers want to hear. A week of spotty showers, fierce downpours and no sun threatens produce harvests -- for farmers of acres of fruits and vegetables to the backyard hobbyist who just wants enough veggies to feed a family or share with neighbors.

Bobby Lyle in Cleveland, Tenn., said he threw away six bushels of beans because they were destroyed by the rain.

Crabtree Farms Executive Director Joel Houser said the soggy ground made it extra hard getting his equipment out onto the fields to weed and tend plants.

Growers will see the biggest problems with tomatoes, watermelon and squash. So much moisture likely will allow mildew and plant diseases to grow on vines, Houser said.

Other farmers are concerned about their fruit crops not getting enough sun. The fruits may not fully ripen before falling to the ground under the weight of all of the water they have absorbed. More water doesn't translate to better tasting -- the fruit will be more watery and less sweet, farmer said.

Paul Barys, chief meteorologist for WRCB-TV3, said he expects rain on Wednesday and Thursday, but amounts won't be as much as last week.

On Sunday 2.21 inches of rain fell in Chattanooga, breaking an 85-year record set in 1928 when rainfall on that day was at 2.11 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.

It has rained in the Chattanooga area every day so far this month.

Charles Bach, Tennessee Valley Authority's general manager of river operations for the Chattanooga area, is preparing for the forecast.

  • photo
    The Delta Queen is only accessible by boat Monday after recent rains have caused flooding in the Tennessee River as it passes through downtown Chattanooga.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

His goal is to allow enough water to flow through Chickamauga Dam's spillway gates to keep water from flowing over the dam and causing more flooding, he said.

Water at the dam is at flood stage, about 15 feet higher than normal, he said.

At this level, he said, people start to see effects on structures such as marinas and parks.

The Tennessee Riverpark closed Monday because of flooding. Also on Monday, the American Red Cross began loading relief supplies for about 30 families who have been affected by flooding.

TVA expects water to stay at flood level in Chattanooga until this afternoon when the river will begin to recede, Bach said.

It's not unusual for lakes along the Tennessee River to get so full; it just does not happen in July. Flooding usually occurs in the spring and winter. Lake levels are kept low then, but in summer the dam operators allow more water into the lakes so people can use the waterways for recreation.

Brainerd area home owner Forestine Haynes said the rain has forced her husband to cut the grass at least twice a week.

"My flowers are blooming beautifully," she said. "But we're doing a lot of extra grass cutting."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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