Overnight storms produce rare weather occurrence Tuesday in Chattanooga

Overnight storms produce rare weather occurrence Tuesday in Chattanooga

February 20th, 2019 by Mark Pace in Local Regional News

EPB repairs power lines after a fallen tree closed Gadd Road on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Continuous rain through the week has raised area waterways to flood stages, with more rain expected in the coming days.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Lightning

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FIVE-DAY FORECAST

THURSDAY

Thunderstorms

High: 55

Low: 47

FRIDAY

Rain

High: 54

Low: 52

SATURDAY

Rain

High: 64

Low: 49

SUNDAY

Partly cloudy

High: 59

Low: 33

MONDAY

Partly cloudy

High: 57

Low: 38

Source: WRCB-TV Channel 3

 

The alignment of cold surface temperatures, elevated thunderstorms and warm high atmospheric temperatures yielded rare weather patterns in Chattanooga as heavy rain steadily falls this week in the Tennessee Valley.

WRCB-TV's Paul Barys has been a meteorologist for more than 40 years and said he has never seen a lightning storm like the one he saw Tuesday night in such cold surface conditions.

"It was absolutely pouring, and we weren't that far away. It was so warm in the upper atmosphere there was rain, but had that been colder air with that amount of lift, we would have had a heck of a snowstorm," he said.

Nevertheless, surface temperatures hovered in the high 30s, leaving the valley drenched with about 1 1/2 inches of rain Tuesday night and another projected 1 1/2 inches Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

The severe rain and flooding predicted earlier in the week mainly stayed to the west of the area, leaving the region damp but largely not flooded.

Lookout Creek west of the city in North Georgia reached minor flood levels at 14 feet Wednesday afternoon, but that was expected to subside by Thursday afternoon. Sequatchie River near Whitwell was near minor flood level Wednesday evening and expected to hover right around the 14-foot mark before subsiding Thursday.

In Walker County, first responders rescued two men trapped overnight by the rising East Armuchee Creek.

The two had gone hiking Tuesday in the Chattahoochee National Forest and planned to leave before sundown. While hiking, the creek level rose to the point the men deemed it unsafe to cross, trapping them for the night. Cellphone service was spotty, so they were unable to call for help until Wednesday morning.

Emergency responders arrived shortly before 9 a.m. and set up a cable system across the creek. The two were rescued and uninjured.

And in Crossville, a 68-year-old man reported missing on Sunday still has not been found. The Polk County resident went missing from Ocoee Lake #3 in the Tumbling Creek area. A kayak, life jacket and creel bucket containing fish were located. Heavy rain, lightning and swift-moving water have provided challenges for the search, which has been called off at times due to unsafe conditions.

Elsewhere, heavy rain caused a hillside to slide away beneath a Mapco gas station in Wildwood, Georgia. The business closed due to the slide.

Area residents should get a brief rest from rain during the day Thursday before storms return in the evening, according to the National Weather Service. Thunderstorms are possible but are not expected to be as severe as Tuesday or Wednesday nights. Steady rain will occur in the area from Thursday until Sunday. Residents should expect between 1 1/2 and 2 inches total from Thursday evening through Sunday.

"From there, it should be clearing up Sunday, then we should be dry Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," Barys said.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.


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