February 2019 Recap: Record warmth, record rainfall

As February 2019 comes to a close, the month will go down in record books for both the warmth as well as the rain that occurred within the 28 day period.

Record Warmth

Remember Groundhog Day? Punxsutawney Phil called for an early spring, while Smith Lake Jake called for six more weeks of winter.

The joke was on Jake that day, as temperatures soared to the 70s on February 2, about 15 degrees warmer than an average February day. The rest of the week featured temperatures in the upper 60s to low 70s, culminating on February 7 when daytime highs reached 78 degrees in Huntsville and 79 degrees in Muscle Shoals — this set the record high for the day.

Record Rainfall

February 2019 was also the wettest month on record for Huntsville: 12.60 inches of rainfall, the majority of which fell during the 10-day span of February 15 through February 24.

In Muscle Shoals, February 2019 will go in the record books as the wettest February with 13.85 inches of rainfall, the majority of which fell during the 10-day span of February 15-24.

February 23rd broke the record for the most rainfall recorded on that date in both Muscle Shoals and Huntsville.

Data from the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

Numerous roads were closed due to high water, and school systems were closed due to the event.

Historical Flooding

The Tennessee River at Whitesburg crested at 22.91 feet during the event, which is the upper end of “Moderate” flood stage and is very close to the “Major” flood stage of 23 feet. As a result, Ditto Landing and Hobbs Island flooded, as well as nearby homes and roads. Officials say floodwaters were as high during the heavy rain event in 2019 as they were during the Christmas 2015 flood.

Whitesburg’s crest was the ninth-highest on record.  The record there is 26.10 feet on March 19, 1973.

The Tennessee River at Florence crested at 28.99 feet, which is “Moderate” flood stage. Nevertheless, water covered the Marina at McFarland Park with extensive flooding throughout the park. Alabama State Highway 20 was also flooded at the underpass below US 43 and US 72.

Florence’s crest was the third-highest on record; the record is 32.50 feet on March 19, 1897.

Floodwaters’ lasting impacts

WHNT News 19’s Carter Watkins reports floodwater was touching Alabama Highway 20 from Saturday night through Monday morning. The Florence Lauderdale Tourism Office was also surrounded by flood waters, as seen in the video below.

According to the National Weather Service, the Tennessee River at Florence crested Sunday afternoon at a height of 29-feet. The river is forecasted to stay well above flood stage for most of the upcoming week. This is said to be the second worst flood at Florence since TVA began flood control in the valley. In addition, data from the National Weather Service indicates that this recent flooding even is the the third worst since 1897.

Below is a photo gallery of the flooding that occurred in February 2019.

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