Large mudslides damage stretch of Highway 70 in Tennessee as flooding causes issues around the state

By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
February 22, 2019, 2:31:52 AM EST

A mudslide forced the closure of Highway 70 in Hawkins County, Tennessee, Thursday morning, after a large chunk of the road came apart following days of heavy rain.

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said on Twitter that at least two vehicles were involved and one person was transposed to a hospital by Hawkins County Emergency Medical Services. A number of emergency responders had arrived at the scene to assist with rescues. Additional searches were slated to be performed after daylight.

Lawson said downed trees and power lines had also fallen on the roadway.

tennessee mudslide

A large mudslide caused a chunk of Highway 70 northbound to wash away Thursday morning, Feb. 21. (Photo/Mark Nagi Tennessee Department of Transportation Community Relations Officer)

Hawkins County is located in the northeastern part of the state along the Virginia border.

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Several days of heavy rain caused significant flooding throughout the state, including around the Nashville and Knoxville areas where many roads were closed.

Nashville has received around 10.63 inches of rain so far this month, making it the fourth wettest February on record for the city.

Partial evacuations were ordered for a campground in Lebanon, Tennessee, Wednesday as the water levels at Sinking Creek continued to rise.

High river conditions were reported along the Tennessee River. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system, said the heavier-than-normal rain was creating hazardous conditions on the river and its tributaries.

Drone footage produced in Obion County earlier this week captured floodwaters erasing a major stretch of highway.

James Everett, senior manager of the TVA's river forecast center, told the Knoxville News that the growing rainfall totals had the agency preparing aggressively.

“In times like these, our focus shifts to flood control,” Everett said. “We’re around the clock monitoring the weather conditions and flows using a network of rain gauges and stream gauges, as well as information from the dams to make decisions about how much water to release through that system.”

Additional rain is on the way for the Tennessee Valley into the weekend.

A second storm is likely to focus rain over much of the same area this weekend and may double the five- to seven-day rainfall total, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

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