published Monday, May 6th, 2013

Heavy rain brings flood warnings to the greater Chattanooga area

Camp Jordan Parkway road was closed Sunday because of flooding from weekend rain. Creeks and streams overflowed around the tri-state region Sunday and flooding is expected to continue.
Camp Jordan Parkway road was closed Sunday because of flooding from weekend rain. Creeks and streams overflowed around the tri-state region Sunday and flooding is expected to continue.
Photo by Connor Choate.
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COUNTIES UNDER FLOOD WARNING

Tennessee

Hamilton

Bledsoe

Sequatchie

Marion

Georgia

Dade

Catoosa

Whitfield

Murray

Chattooga

Alabama

Jackson

Source: WRCB-TV Channel 3 meteorologist Nick Austin

ROAD CLOSURES

Hamilton County: Shoal Creek Road; 1500 block of May Road; 1500 block of Roberson Road; 9400 block of Lovell Road; 3900 block of the W Road; 800 and 1000 blocks of Boy Scout Road and 1200 block of Lower Mill Road.

Marion County: Ladds Road and Major Road

Catoosa County: Wooton, Mack Smith and Old Mill roads

Dade County: Creek and Mason Roads, Sells Lane and Sulfur Springs Gap

Murray County: Loughridge, Bagley and Norton Bridge roads

Source: Area police dispatchers

After a short, sunny break Sunday, the weekend's soggy weather is expected to continue through tonight and maybe even Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

"I don't think we'll have any more storms, though" said Nick Austin, meteorologist for WRCB-TV Channel 3.

As of 9 p.m. Sunday, the Chattanooga area had received 4.29 inches of rain since the downpour began early Saturday morning. The weekend's deluge puts the year-to-date total at 31.77 inches, beating the average by more than 12 inches.

The storms have caused creeks and rivers to swell over their banks, flooding roads and spilling over dams.

Though many roads were blocked by high water, no injuries or property damage had been reported to police dispatchers in the tri-state region as of late Sunday.

But the water still is rising. Flood warnings in a number of area counties are expected to continue through the early part of the week, according to Austin.

"Nearly every county in the area is under a flood warning due to some body of water," Austin said.

West Chickamauga Creek near Fort Oglethorpe is on a flood warning until Wednesday afternoon. The creek reached 11.1 feet around noon Sunday and is expected to rise to 13.5 feet by early Tuesday, the Peachtree City branch of the National Weather Service reported.

South Chickamauga Creek is under a flood warning until late Tuesday night. The creek reached 18.5 feet early Sunday morning and is expected to rise to 21.9 feet by this morning.

The Sequatchie River, affecting Bledsoe, Marion and Sequatchie counties, and Lookout Creek, affecting Dade and Hamilton counties, are also under flood warnings.

Danny Stooksbury, a water resource engineer for TVA, said the dams at Watts Bar, Chickamauga and Nickajack were way over capacity.

"We are going to spill when we have excessive amounts of rainfall," he said. "The spill is what we're doing above and beyond the generators, because we can control that. ... When we start doing spill, in a lot of places we'll actually have to have people go out there and set gates at certain settings that we tell them to be able to spill that water."

As of Sunday evening, the Watts Bar dam was spilling 35.9 million gallons per minute. The dams at Chickamauga and Nickajack were spilling about 50 million gallons per minute.

To put that in perspective, normal capacity for the dams ranges from about 15.2 million to 17 million gallons per minute.

"That's about the maximum we can do before we have to call on people to go out on top of the dams and open the spillway gates," Stooksbury said.

"Pretty much it gets to, we don't have enough storage to hold water back without spilling or it'll get way too high on the headwaters, and you know, it'll start causing problems. Flooding and things like that," he said.

The sun is expected to make an intermittent appearance on Tuesday, and by Wednesday the clouds should be mostly gone.

"The chance of rain will be much smaller," Austin said. "We're talking about 20 percent chance or less from Tuesday through Friday. It'll get warmer with the highs back in the 70s and low 80s and overnight lows in the 50s."

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

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.

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