From a meteorology perspective, Tropical Storm Barry is the storm that keeps on giving.
The remnants of the tropical storm are expected to dump multiple inches of rain across the northern Cumberland Plateau during the middle of next week, an area that is already saturated from recent thunderstorms.
Barry is already an ultra-rare phenomenon — a southward-moving disturbance that passed through the Appalachians en route to the Gulf Coast. Typically, East Tennessee is impacted by tropical weather as decaying tropical depressions move north from the Gulf of Mexico or west from the Atlantic Ocean. And, typically, tropical waves that develop into Gulf of Mexico cyclones form in the gulf or enter it from the south and east. This time, a 4th of July holiday period disturbance dumped rain on East Tennessee in the form of thunderstorms as it moved due south, where it eventually strengthened as it interacted with rich tropical moisture.
On Friday evening, the tropical storm was located off the coast of Louisiana, crawling northwest at 5 mph with sustained winds in excess of 60 mph. After dumping well over a foot of rain across parts of Louisiana, the storm is expected to be located over northern Louisiana as a tropical depression by late Sunday.
As it continues moving up the Mississippi River basin, the circulation is forecast to weaken and form a trough that will result in enhanced rain chances across much of Tennessee by the middle of the week.
According to the National Weather Service at Morristown, the primary impact in East Tennessee will be felt along the northern Cumberland Plateau — Scott, Morgan and Campbell counties. In a forecast discussion issued Friday afternoon, the NWS said that “A few inches of rain will likely fall with localized flooding possible.”
The NWS’s forecast, as of Friday, called for a 50 percent chance of heavy rain beginning Tuesday night and continuing into Wednesday night.
In a briefing provided to emergency management agencies across East Tennessee, the NWS forecast office said Friday afternoon that two to three inches of rain could fall across much of Scott County between Tuesday and Thursday. “Scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms are possible, which could produce heavy rainfall and isolated flash flooding,” the NWS said.
Parts of the area experienced minor flash flooding on Wednesday due to thunderstorms, and the potential for heavy rain is also expected with a chance of thunderstorms on Saturday. Both rounds of scattered storms have been associated with Tropical Storm Barry’s influence.
The 2019 calendar year continues as one of the wettest on record in Scott County. As of Friday, 42.64 inches of rain had been recorded in Oneida since January 1, almost 13 inches more than normal. The wettest year on record through July 12 was 1962, when 44.85 inches of rain had accumulated by the date.
Since September 1, 2018, Scott County has received 73.1 inches of rain, a record for the time period. Typically, only 46.3 inches of rain are received during that time frame.