The Tennessee Valley authority reported today that rainfall across the valley is at 200% of normal and more rain is on the way. TVA says it is “racing to outpace the water and prevent flooding across the system.”
At many of its dams with hydroelectric plants, they are generating electricity, spilling water and/or sluicing water to move it downriver and open flood storage capacity. TVA says conditions on the Tennessee River and its reservoir system are volatile, at best — especially in west Tennessee and Kentucky.
TVA said levels in most of its reservoirs are expected to approach, and in some cases exceed, normal summer pool levels.
TVA is warning the public that these dams can spill at rates of up to 1 million gallons per second, creating hazardous conditions for recreational lake users.
“There is a lot of water moving through the system at a pretty good clip now, and I think that many people just don’t understand the tremendous power that water has,” says Todd Peney, director of TVA Police. “We’re seeing situations in which people are ignoring our warning systems, thinking that they can handle the water or that they know better, and that can lead to disaster.”
As of Feb. 23, TVA’s River Forecast Center provided the below items of note:
- Extremely heavy rainfall has occurred over the last 24 hours in most parts of the valley, with totals over 4 inches in some areas with rain continuing.
- Additional heavy rainfall is expected to continue through early Sunday and total amounts remain extremely uncertain.
- Lake levels are rising sharply and summer pool levels are expected at most TVA reservoirs, with some levels approaching several feet above summer pool on both main river and tributary reservoirs.
- Flood impacts could be felt at nearly every location along the mainstem Tennessee River as well as below all tributary dams.
- Flash floods and river flooding remain possible on unregulated portions of rivers below TVA dams such as the Duck and Elk rivers, as well as the Toccoa and Ocoee rivers.
- Since the beginning of the week, some locations have seen 5 to 12 inches of rain over the past 12 days.
TVA, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for business customers and distribution utilities that serve nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.