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Photo by Dave Flessner / Water spills through the Chickamauga Dam. So far in 2020, more than 27 inches of rain have fallen in the Tennessee Valley, or 12 inches more than normal.

Nearly an entire month's worth or rain fell on the Tennessee Valley Sunday and early Monday, raising already rain-swollen rivers and reservoirs across TVA's 7-state region.

After the wettest first three months of any year in the 131 years that such records have been kept, another 3 to 5 inches of rain drenched the Valley on Sunday as storms and tornadoes ripped through the South.

Normally, the Tennessee Valley region averages about 4 to 5 inches of rain for all of April.

"Most of the heaviest rain across the Valley occurred within an 18-hour period, which is very unusual to get this much rain that quickly," said James, Everett, senior manager at the TVA River Forecast Center in Knoxville.

So far this year, 27.75 inches of rain has fallen across the Tennessee Valley, or 12 inches more than normal.

While most of the flooding in the region was localized Sunday and Monday, the rain did raise lake levels in major TVA reservoirs such as Chickamauga and Watts Bar lakes about 1.5 feet above normal summertime pool levels, which TVA doesn't normally try to reach each spring until June 1.

TVA is using its network of 49 dams to help hold back as much water as possible during the heavy rains to avoid flooding in Chattanooga and other drainage routes for the Tennessee River and its tributaries.

"We don't expect there to be any flooding in Chattanooga, but there will be some downstream," Everett said, noting that some low-lying areas around Huntsville, Alabama and Savannah, Tennessee are being flooded because of all of the rain runoff coming down the Tennessee River.

Everett cautioned boaters not to get too close to TVA dams where water is spilling or sluicing through the dams to help lower upstream reservoirs.

"This is the time of year when people start thinking about getting outside and going on the river," he said. "But anywhere near the dams, there is going to have very strong current in the river and we would discourage anyone from being on the river with these flood levels."

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.

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