Hurricane season is flood season, even in Tennessee
Posted: Friday, September 3, 2010 8:02 pm
NASHVILLE — Tennessee is far from any seashore, but that doesn’t mean residents can afford to relax during hurricane season.
Some of the most dangerous and damaging floods after a hurricane occur hundreds of miles from the coast. As hurricanes weaken to tropical storms and move inland, rapid, massive rainfall can cause flash flooding that might last for days.
A tropical storm can produce more rain than a Category 5 hurricane.
The National Weather Service is predicting a strong Atlantic hurricane season for 2010, with as many as six storms expected to reach at least Category 3 strength. Hurricane season runs June 1 to Nov. 30, peaking from late August through October.
“Not only is September often an intense time for hurricanes, it’s also National Preparedness Month,” said Gracia Szczech, the federal official coordinating recovery work in response to the May flooding in Tennessee. “With two significant floods in Tennessee already this year, residents should be ready to respond if inland tropical weather brings damaging winds or flooding.”
West and Middle Tennessee are 300 to 400 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, while parts of East Tennessee are within 250 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Over the years, that has proved to be close enough to mean trouble.
• 2008 — Winds from Hurricane Ike felled a tree on a Nashville-area golf course, killing two men.
• 2003-04 — Tropical Storm Bill and the remnants of Hurricane Ivan the following year dumped several inches of rain on East Tennessee.
• 1995 — Hurricane Opal caused $2 million in damage in the Volunteer State, half of that in the Chattanooga area. Rainfall in Middle and East Tennessee measured three or more inches.
• 1977 — A dissipating Hurricane Babe drenched Chattanooga, which recorded almost four times its normal rainfall for the month.
• 1940 — The Georgia-South Carolina Hurricane of 1940 sparked deadly, destructive flash flooding in the Southeast, including much of Tennessee.
“Tennesseans should make sure the entire family pays attention to any local flood-related advisories or warnings,” Tennessee Emergency Management Agency director James Bassham said.
Other preparedness steps include:
• Get a kit, make a plan and be informed. TEMA recommends creating an emergency supply kit and making sure an emergency plan is in place. Practice a flood evacuation route and ask someone out of state to be a “family contact” in case of separation from loved ones.
• Get flood insurance. Visit www.FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 to learn about risk, how to prepare for inland flooding and discover how to purchase a National Flood Insurance Policy.
• Review the planning resources available from FEMA at its preparedness website, www.ready.gov.
Published in The Messenger 9.3.10