USA – Floods and Landslides Prompt State of Emergency in Tennessee

Storms in eastern and southern USA caused death and destruction over the weekend 23 to 24 February, 2019.

Associated Press reported that one person died when a tornado smashed into a commercial district in Columbus, Mississippi during the afternoon 23 February.

Meanwhile heavy rain has caused flooding in some southern states, in particular in Tennessee where one person has died and a State of Emergency declared.

The weekend’s severe weather follows days of heavy rain last week when flooding prompted high water rescues after people were stranded in vehicles in Indiana and Alabama. Flooding also blocked roads in parts of Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky, and one person died after rain triggered a landslide in Hawkins County, Tennessee.

Earlier this month one person has died in flash flooding in Tennessee after a storm system brought record-breaking rain to the Nashville area.

Record Rainfall and Rising Rivers

Parts of Tennessee have seen record monthly totals of rain for February. National Weather Service (NSW) Nashville reported that by 23 February, Nashville Airport had recorded a record 13.47 inches (342 mm) , beating the old record of 12.37 inches (314 mm) set in 1880.

NWS Nashville also said that February 2019 has been the wettest February ever in Nashville and Crossville, the seventh wettest month of all time in Nashville and the fourth wettest month of all time in Crossville.

Continued wet weather has also resulted in rivers reaching increasingly dangerous levels. As of 25 February, National Weather Service data showed over 250 rivers in the midwest, south and east to be above flood stage.

Of particular concern in Tennessee is the Tennessee River at Perryville, where levels are fast approaching record highs, and the Tennessee River at Savannah, which is expected to remain above major flood stage for the next 5 or 6 days.

Tennessee River at Perryville. Image; NWS
Tennessee River at Savannah. Image: NWS
More than 250 rivers in Midwest, south and eastern areas of USA are above flood stage after a wet February. Image: NWS. Key: Orange – Minor Flood Stage; Red – Moderate Flood Stage; Purple – Major Flood Stage

Flooding and Landslides in Tennessee

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) said on 23 February “In response to the flooding and severe weather potential, this afternoon TEMA activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan and put a State of Emergency in Place in Tennessee.”

One person died in flood waters in Knoxville, a city on the Tennessee River in eastern Tennessee. The victim died after driving his car into water on a flooded road early 24 February, according to Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said “We have several road closures around Knox County. The list is growing. We have stranded motorists that various agencies are working to rescue at this time.” The American Red Cross opened a shelter for those displaced by flooding in Knox County. Schools have been closed in the area.

Severe flooding was also reported in areas of the city of Dunlap. Major landslides were reported in Chattanooga, where buildings were damaged, and northwest Davidson County.

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