NASHVILLE (AP) — Much-needed rainstorms have dumped a couple of inches on drought-stricken areas, but they also brought the risk of flash-flooding to Tennessee as parched streams and creek beds were slow to absorb the rain.
Parts of downtown Chattanooga were deluged Tuesday and flash flooding was reported in Polk and Bradley counties and farther north in Sullivan County.
Amy Maxwell, spokeswoman with the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency, said the flooding in downtown Chattanooga occurred within about a half-hour and receded gradually.
“A lot of the downtown area saw immediate flash flooding,” Maxwell said. “A car dealership moved about 100 vehicles because the water was moving so fast.”
Maxwell said the heavy rainfall wasn’t immediately absorbed into the ground and debris that had piled up in curbs and the sewer system contributed to the flooding.
“We haven’t had rain for several weeks,” she said. “As a result when you get a large amount of immediate rain, it rolls right off the grass.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Jessica Winton in Morristown said heavy downpours on Tuesday caused localized flooding and water covered some roads in Polk and Bradley counties. She said the flooding in those areas was a result of a slow-moving rainstorm that was dropping about two inches of water an hour.
“If it rains that much so quickly, the river and creeks don’t have time to move the water,” she said.
Most of East Tennessee is expected to see additional rain into the weekend, Winton said.
Sullivan County Emergency Management Agency director Jim Bean said heavy rainfall on Tuesday morning created a quick moving flash flood in the northeast part of the county.
“We had some areas where the streams were up getting close to the roads,” he said. “We considered evacuation, but as quickly as the water rose, it started to recede.”
With rain expected for the next couple of days, Bean said they have monitors watching the river levels in the area and are keeping an eye on areas that are prone to flooding.
In other parts of the state where flooding has not been an issue, the precipitation has been a welcome relief from the high temperatures and arid weather.
Jim Moser, a NWS meteorologist in Nashville, said the forecast is for 2-4 inches of rain over the next couple of days.