* 30.63 - Inches of rainfall in the Tennessee Valley in the first five months of the year
* 22.7 - Normal inches of rainfall in the first five months of the year in the Valley
* 443,250 - Gallons of water flowing through the Chickamauga Dam per second on Thursday
* 352,500 - Gallons of water expected today to flow through the Chickamauga dam per second today
* 103 - Percent of summertime water in storage in TVA's 10 upstream storage reservoirs
Source: Tennessee Valley Authority
With nearly 35 percent more rain this year than normal in the Tennessee Valley, TVA was spilling water through five of its mainstream dams on the Tennessee River Thursday, keeping those preparing for the Riverbend Festival with a bit of high water.
But the flow of the river should slow today as boaters come downtown to enjoy the riverfront festival. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which controls the flow of the Tennessee River, expects to cease spilling water through the Chickamauga Dam today to limit the river flow as the festival opens this weekend. The river will still have a steady current from water used to generate hydroelectric power, but the flow should be manageable for most boats.
"We had some heavy rains that dumped up to 3 inches of rain in some parts of the valley on Wednesday, but we don't anticipate as much rain today and this weekend is looking pretty clear so we're not plannning on spilling water (at the Chickamauga Dam) this weekend," Tom Barnett, manager of river forecasting for TVA, said Thursday. "We're watching the weather closely and we have extra water in storage above Chattanoooga, but barring some unforeseen storms, I think we'll be OK."
On the eve of the festival start with nearly a half-million gallons of water flowing through the Chickamauga Dam every second, the Tennessee River was flowing faster and was higher than normal in Chattanooga.
Doug BeVille, who has brought his boat to Riverbend for the past three decades, said the heavy current in the river Thursday could prove challenging for many boaters trying to anchor near the festival site if it is not reduced.
"I've never seen the current this strong during any previous Riverbend," he said Thursday.
Barnett said TVA tries to work with events on the river and will work to keep more normal flows through the next nine days of the festival, if possible. The amount of water in storage in the 10 TVA lakes above Chattanooga is 3 percent above the normal summertime level. Barnett said this year has been the wettest in the valley since 2000.
"It's looking a lot better now than we expected earlier so we expect to be able to reduce the rive flow some on Friday," he said late Thursday.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com. or at 757-6340