Weekend rains push TVA to new record
Rains over the weekend pushed rainfall totals for 2020 to an all-time high in the 131 years of rainfall records, according to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
On Sunday night, average rainfall in the 7-state TVA region rose to 67.43 inches so far in 2020, surpassing the all-time calendar record for rainfall in the region set in 2018 when 67.01 inches of rain fell for the entire year. Last year was the third wettest year on record in the Tennessee Valley with 66.47 inches of rain.
The record set this year came with 16 days left in the year and more rain expected in the Valley. In November when only 2.34 inches of rain fell across the Valley, it was the first month in 13 straight months with below-average rainfall in the Tennessee Valley. So far this year, rainfall is running about 34% higher than usual.
"TVA has managed three straight years of record rainfall," TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said. "Obviously, Mother Nature remains fully in charge and we have not been able to prevent flooding everywhere in the Tennessee River system. But our river forecasting team has done an amazing job in dealing with these record rains and in limiting flood damages."
Through its network of 49 dams on the Tennessee River and its tributaries, TVA has managed the record rains to limit flooding. TVA estimates it has averted nearly $1 billion in damage so far in calendar 2020, including $780 million of flood damage in Chattanooga that the agency estimates would have resulted if TVA didn't have its dams and river management system in place upstream of the city.
Local gas prices low during holidays
Chattanooga gas prices fell 0.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $1.85 per gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 stations. Gas prices in Chattanooga 31.1 cents per gallon lower than a year ago and are 34 cents a gallon below the U.S. average.
"After gas prices spiked last week in their biggest weekly rise since August, we've seen them cool back down for the time being," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "For now, the holidays will be marked by the lowest seasonal prices in years."
Pinterest pays to settle gender discrimination
Pinterest on Monday agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit from Françoise Brougher, its former chief operating officer, in one of the largest publicly announced individual settlements for gender discrimination.
As part of the agreement, Pinterest and Brougher said they planned to jointly donate $2.5 million toward charities that support women and underrepresented minorities in tech with a focus on education, funding and advocacy. The donations are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
"I'm glad Pinterest took this very seriously," Brougher said in an interview. "I'm hoping it's a first step in creating a better work environment there."
The agreement may signal a shift in how Silicon Valley handles such suits. In the past, tech companies have typically fought back, such as when the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers disputed a suit brought by one of its former investors, Ellen Pao, in 2012. (Pao lost the case.) Tech companies have also settled such suits in private.
Calfornia challenges Amazon's virus safety
California is taking Amazon to court to force the online retail giant to cooperate with a months-long investigation into whether the company is doing enough to protect its workers from the coronavirus, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday.
Becerra said his office had asked a Sacramento County Superior Court judge to order Amazon to comply with outstanding investigative subpoenas, alleging the firm has not adequately responded to requests for information.
The attorney general's office issued the subpoenas in August as part of an investigation into Amazon's protocols for protecting employees from COVID-19 and the status of virus cases at the company's facilities throughout California.
"Amazon has made billions during this pandemic relying on the labor of essential workers. Their workers get the job done while putting themselves at risk," Becerra said in a statement Monday. "It's critical to know if these workers are receiving the protections on the job that they are entitled to under the law."
— Compiled by Dave Flessner