There are two major global weather models that are primarily used by meteorologists to forecast weather in the 7-10 day window, and both agree: significant, flooding rains are headed for East Tennessee next week.
The European weather model, which is operated by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), shows six to seven inches of rain for the northern Cumberland Plateau, including Scott County, over the next seven days, beginning with rainfall that is expected to begin Friday evening.
The GFS, or Global Forecast System, operated by the U.S. National Weather Service, shows eight to nine inches of rain for the northern plateau.
Currently, the NWS’s Morristown weather forecast office is predicting four to six inches of rain for the region.
If it comes to fruition, the anticipated rainfall is likely to cause some fairly significant issues across East Tennessee.
A week ago, three inches of rain in a 24-hour period caused travel delays and other minor issues — including some flooded basements and buckled pavement — throughout Scott County. Next week could bring more of the same by late in the week, if the current forecast holds.
Flooding isn’t anticipated with the first two rounds of rainfall, which will occur today and Sunday. Nor is it anticipated with the early-week rains next week. But as the week continues and the rains become heavier, it’s likely that flash flooding will occur, along with mudslides, road erosion and other issues. Simply put: the ground is far too saturated to absorb any more water, and any rain that falls will run off. When heavy rains occur, issues will begin fairly quickly.
If there is good news for the northern plateau region, it is that there is likely to be a sharp gradient along the northern edge of the axis of precipitation, and the northern plateau is currently situated along that northern edge. It would not take much of a shift southward with the setup of the heaviest bands of rain for much less precipitation to occur in the region. And, with nearly a week to go before the heaviest rains arrive, there’s plenty of time for change in the forecast.
But the picture that is being painted by weather models and meteorologists at this early juncture is a fairly ominous one, and it seems likely — at this point, at least — that the region has to deal with flooding next week.
The amount of rain that has fallen since the beginning of the fall season has been record-setting already, and additional rainfall continues to exasperate the problem.