Chattanooga receives 'remarkable' amounts of rainfall

Chattanooga receives 'remarkable' amounts of rainfall

April 16th, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in News

Bill McOsker puts tarps on a tent while setting up for Bug-a-Paluza at Camp Jordan. He and his wife Danielle, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., have six Volkswagens. Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press

About 3 inches of rain pounded Chattanooga on Friday afternoon into Saturday morning while powerful winds blew over some trees and knocked down power lines.

Hundreds of Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia homes experienced sporadic power outages Friday evening, and strong winds and showers continued throughout the night.

A tornado warning was issued for much of North Georgia on Friday, including the metro Atlanta area. In Northwest Georgia, the Rome News-Tribune reported storms toppled trees around the city, blocking roads and striking a home.

In the Fort Oglethorpe area, about 1,100 residences were without power for a few hours in the afternoon.

Trees feel on houses in Nashville and Memphis as thunderstorms moved across the state.

There were no reports of major injuries Friday, but 12,000 customers were without power in Nashville in the late afternoon.

Waves of strong storms left damage across a wide area of Alabama on Friday, slamming into homes and businesses and forcing promoters to cancel the first race of a busy weekend at the Talladega Superspeedway.

An apparent tornado damaged a motel in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and struck an oil change business, blowing the plastic out of large signs and leaving roads crisscrossed with power poles and trees in places.

Sam Packwood said he and his son saw what appeared to be a twister drop out of the sky near Bama Mini Storage, where he works.

"It was a dark funnel coming down," Packwood in a telephone interview. "The sirens went off and all; it was pretty exciting for 20 or 30 minutes. I hope nobody got hurt."

No injuries were immediately reported.

Friday's storm pushed this year's rainfall in Chattanooga between 3 and 4 inches above average, which WRCB-TV Channel 3 meteorologist Paul Barys called "remarkable." Though the extra precipitation is good for water tables and the backyard vegetable garden, it would take sustained heavy rainfall to break the area's long-term drought.

Of course this weather comes with risks, as several Chattanoogans likely saw waking up Saturday.

"Hopefully their trees will still be standing," Barys said. "This is a pretty intense system."

Weather radios are the best way to stay safe in such sever weather, Beyrs said. They can be purchased at several electronics stores for around $30 and programmed for warnings in specific counties.

"You're warned forever; you can even put batteries in so if the power goes off you have it," he said. "It's the best way to cover yourself, especially in the middle of the night."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.