Another round of potentially heavy rain in what has been a very wet 2020 calendar year to date is setting up for the upcoming week, and meteorologists are warning of yet more flooding potential for parts of Tennessee.
In a Hazardous Weather Outlook published Saturday morning, the National Weather Service’s Morristown office, which covers Scott County, cautioned of a slow-moving weather system that will produce rain through much of the upcoming week.
“There could be flooding across the area by midweek, especially where the heaviest rains are expected over the Cumberland Plateau, southeast Tennessee, and southwest North Carolina,” the NWS said.
Rainfall is expected to begin during the predawn hours on Monday, then intensify Monday and Tuesday. Several inches of rainfall are possible by the middle of the week, although meteorologists say they aren’t exactly sure where the heaviest rains will occur. The flooding potential will set up wherever the heaviest rains occur. Outside that heaviest rain band, the first half of the week will be wet, but with lower potential for flooding.
“The overall track of the system and its timing will influence just where the heavy precipitation will fall along its journey, and so there is still not a high degree of confidence on that exact placement,” NWS-Morristown said in a forecast discussion Saturday morning. “Even so, rain it shall during the first half of the work week.”
While NWS-Morristown is forecasting up to five inches of rainfall wherever the heaviest rain bands set up, NWS-Nashville, which covers Jamestown and Fentress County, is forecasting up to seven inches of rain with those heaviest rain bands.
“There is still a significant amount of uncertainty where that band will set up,” NWS-Nashville said in a Hydrologic Outlook published Saturday morning. However, the NWS warned, “These forecast rainfall amounts, combined with already saturated ground conditions, will likely lead to flooding along rivers, creeks, streams, roadways, low lying areas, and other poor drainage locations by Tuesday evening and last through the rest of the week.”
For areas outside the heaviest bands of rain, general rainfall amounts of two to three inches are expected.
Flooding has already been a concern this year. Earlier this month, both New River and the Big South Fork River in Scott County reached their highest levels since 1989. February 2020 will end on Saturday as the second-wettest February ever in Oneida, with 11.03 inches of total rainfall. That’s second only to 2019, when flooding also occurred and 12.89 inches of rain were recorded. The third-wettest February in Oneida was 2018, when 10.76 inches of rain were recorded.
So far in 2020, there have been 17.06 inches of rainfall in Oneida. That trails last year’s record pace to start the year, when 19.40 inches of rain had been received through February, but it is well above normal.
The anticipated flooding comes just one week after Severe Weather Awareness Week in Tennessee. On Monday, meteorologists sought to educate the public on the threats of flooding and flash flooding.
The NWS issues a Flood Watch when conditions are favorable for heavy rain to occur. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is expected, but it’s not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. In those situations, flooding could be considered an inconvenience, but could lead to situations that could threaten life or property if caution is not exercised. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is occurring or is imminent. A Flash Flood Warning is issued when sudden, violent flooding is occurring and residents who live in a flood-prone area are being advised to immediately move to higher ground.