UPDATE: Tennessee River flood warning, expected to crest Sunday at noon

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TENNESSEE RIVER, Ala. - Runoff from the massive Christmas Day rainfall is over-running the banks of the Tennessee River, threatening people and property all along the roughly 150 miles of shoreline.

On Saturday, the National Weather Service in Huntsville issued a flood warning for several counties in north Alabama , including:

  • southern Madison County
  • Jackson County
  • DeKalb County
  • southeastern Limestone County
  • Morgan County
  • Marshall County
  • Cullman County

The Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency said as of 5 p.m. Saturday night, the Tennessee River at Whitesburg the flood stage was 21.7' and rising.  Flood Stage is 17'.

On Friday, the National Weather Service had forecast the river to crest at 25.8'.  On Saturday, they revised the estimate and said the river will crest at 22.8'  on Sunday at noon. 

For perspective, at 23', Hobbs Island is flooded. Backwaters may reach Highway 36 on Dry Creek near Laceys Spring. Hundreds of acres of land including homes and roads are flooded in northeastern Morgan County. Large portions of farmland in southeastern Madison County are flooded. Backwater flooding may reach some homes near Owens Cross Roads.

Emergency managers say even with little to no additional rainfall expected Saturday rivers and streams will be slow to recede.

For perspective, the National Weather Service considers anything above 23' as major flooding.

The Tennessee Valley Authority manages the river levels and they’re keeping a close eye on things.  We talked to Gail Rymer, TVA spokesperson, early Saturday morning.  She said they are seeing some of the highest water levels they’ve seen in decades.

She added they’re releasing water at all three dams in Alabama - Guntersville, Wheeler and Wilson Dams - for flood control.

According to TVA, 8.5" of rain was recorded at the Guntersville Dam on Friday.   All of the flood gates at the dam are open allowing large amounts of water to head downstream on the Tennessee River.