Record rainfall drenches the Tennessee Valley in past year

TVA uses network of dams to avert $780 million of flood damage in Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / A car splashes through water on Davidson Road in East Brainerd. In the background a truck turns around to avoid the flood waters of Mackey Branch. Heavy rain and flooding forced the closing of some local school systems on February 6, 2020.

The past 12 months have been the wettest year in the Tennessee Valley in the 131 years of rainfall records, according to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

From October 2019 through September 2020, the Tennessee River basin was drenched with 75.74 inches of rainfall, or 50% more than normal. That's the wettest 12-month period ever by about 2.8 inches and, for the first time, rainfall has been above average every month for 12 consecutive months.

If rainfall continues at its current pace, calendar year 2020 also will be the wettest calendar year on record, surpassing the previous record high year in 2018 and also topping the second highest year on record, last year.

"There is definitely a cyclical nature on hydrology, and we have tended to see prolonged periods of heavy rains and droughts in the past," said James Everett, manager of the Tennessee Valley Authority's River Forecast Center.