Heavy rain on the way; rivers may reach moderate flood stage next week

Between February 17 and February 24, as much as five to seven inches of rainfall is expected to fall throughout the Tennessee Valley — and some isolated areas may receive as much as nine to twelve inches of rain!

This is a very large amount of rain, especially since it will exceed the monthly February average of 4.84 inches — all within the span of a week.

(Click here to read the latest forecast discussion)

But it also poses the question: How will that rainfall impact local rivers and streams? At what point could river flooding be an issue?

Heavy rain leads to river and creek flooding

With rain in the forecast for nearly every day over the next 10 days, it is concerning to know that local rivers and creeks will likely experience flooding as the runoff rainwater flows into the tributaries. For that reason, the Tennessee Valley Authority is working diligently to create as much storage space as possible in local streams and rivers in advance of the coming rain.

The National Weather Service released model guidance information regarding possible river flooding that will likely occur next week. If you encounter floodwaters, do not attempt to walk, swim or drive through them — instead, turn around and seek higher ground.

Flood safety: How to protect yourself during a flood

Flood alerts come in various forms, including but not limited to:

  • Flood Advisory
  • Flood Watch
  • Flood Warning
  • Flash Flood Watch
  • Flash Flood Warning

flood advisory is issued when a flood event warrants notification due to significant disruption or inconvenience, but is less urgent than a warning.

flood watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding to occur in the short-term future. In this case, the watch is typically issued several hours to even days ahead of the onset of the flooding event.

flood warning is issued when floodwaters may pose a serious threat to life or property. A flood warning may be issued several hours to even days in advance of the onset of flooding. Flooding that occurs near a river usually contain river stage (ie, crest level) forecasts.

flash flood watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flash flooding, and it can be issued several hours to even a few days ahead of time.

flash flood warning is issued when flash flooding is occurring or is about to occur. Flash flood warnings are considered urgent messages since dangerous flooding can happen incredibly rapidly. Flash flood warnings are often issued minutes to hours before the onset of the flash flood.

Flint River Flooding during February 2018 (Photo: Jim Spinoso)

During a flood or flash flood WATCH, be sure to monitor your weather radio or Live Alert 19 app for any changes in weather conditions. Gather your emergency kit and get ready to take action to head to safety; you should already have a place in mind to head to, and if not, determine where the closest shelter area would be located for your area in the event that you live or work in a flood zone or flood-prone area.

During a flood or flash flood WARNING, the time to act is NOW. If you are outdoors, head for higher ground immediately. If you are on the road and you encounter swiftly moving floodwater — or even waters that look still but yet you can’t see the road beneath it — do not attempt to drive through the floodwater. Instead, turn around and either find a different route, or shelter in place at a safe building that is located in a higher elevation.

If you are indoors during a flash flood WARNING and your home or office located in the path of floodwaters, try to move to higher floors within the building. Do not attempt to wade through floodwaters, since hidden dangers (including live electrical wires, sewage, wildlife, object that could pin you underwater) may be lurking in the flood.

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