The Tennessee Valley Authority says conditions on the Tennessee River and its reservoir system are volatile 'at best' especially in West Tennessee and Kentucky.
With the heavy rains in February, reservoirs levels are higher than normal, and many dams in the TVA system are generating, sluicing and/or spilling water, creating potentially dangerous conditions for heedless recreational users.
"There is a lot of water moving through the system at a pretty good clip now, and I think that many people just don't understand the tremendous power that water has," Todd Peney, director of TVA Police, said. "We're seeing situations in which people are ignoring our warning systems, thinking that they can handle the water or that they know better, and that can lead to disaster."
"When the water is like this, you just can't win—no boat engine can overcome the force of a dam spillway," Peney said, who has seen more than his fair share of drownings. "We're seeing a lot of debris throughout the system, which is another danger. You can easily encounter a log that's been swept out of someone's yard or away from a dock, and that, too, can capsize a boat or knock a fisherman off his feet."
TVA asks that lake users "be smart, be safe. Pay attention to water warnings. And always heed alarms when you're in the water near dams."