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TVA “to release as much water as we can now before next week’s rain"

Rick Wagner • Feb 7, 2020 at 1:15 PM

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Valley Authority will release as much water as possible from tributary lakes, including those in the greater Tri-Cities, in anticipation of more rain next week.

James Everett, a senior manager and forecaster at TVA’s River Forecast Center in Knoxville, told reporters Friday morning that TVA would be gearing up releases from tributaries that had been held back a bit so as not to cause more problems downstream in the Tennessee River.

The plan is “to release as much water as we can now before next week’s rain,” Everett said, adding that those releases include Cherokee and Douglas lakes just downstream from the Tri-Cities. He said both will keep rising — Cherokee 4 feet or so and Douglas 7 feet — as water is released upstream.

“We are sluicing water at our Boone Dam and spilling water at Fort Patrick Henry,” Everett told reporters when asked about Watauga, South Holston and Fort Patrick Henry lakes. He said the South Holston and Watauga dams will begin releasing water soon.

In Kingsport, Everett noted, the North Fork of the Holston River out of Southwest Virginia is not controlled by a dam.

“The North Fork coming out of Gate City is a river we monitor closely,” Everett said.

By early next week, Everett, said the rain forecast (as of Friday morning) is for one-half to 1.5 inches in the Tennessee Valley, although higher rain amounts are predicted for mid-week. There’s been a low of 2-3 inches in the valley in recent days, with some areas getting 5-6 inches and some isolated areas 6-8 inches. He said, on the low end, that is a month’s worth of rain, and, on the high end, three months’ worth of rain, although those amounts are short of the record amounts from February 2019.

“There’s a lot of rainfall in the ground already,” Everett said.

The Tennessee River at Knoxville has crested and is on its way down, while the river in Chattanooga probably will rise another foot or so before it crests, he said.

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