Rivers to keep rising from Mississippi to Tennessee, Kentucky despite break in rain

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
February 26, 2019, 9:46:14 AM EST

The areas hit by severe weather and record rain from the lower Mississippi to lower Ohio River valleys will welcome a brief break in the wet weather, but rivers will keep rising.

In the wake of Saturday’s deadly and devastating severe weather and flooding, dry and seasonable weather will continue to sweep across the interior South through Tuesday.

A few showers and thunderstorms are forecast to return to eastern Texas, Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast on Tuesday as dry weather holds firm farther to the north.

Rain Suppressed

Rain may continue to avoid most of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys on Wednesday. Instead, some downpours are forecast to continue from the Texas coast to much of the Florida Peninsula.

The dry spell will be welcome by residents and crews cleaning up storm damage, including mudslides that have closed stretches of interstates 24 and 40 in Tennessee and North Carolina.

However, flooding may only get worse along larger rivers as runoff from the recent heavy rain continues to drain downstream.

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Many rivers across the lower Mississippi, Tennessee and lower Ohio River valleys are at minor to major flood stage.

The Tennessee River at Perryville, Tennessee, is projected by National Weather Service hydrologists to approach the record crest of 380.9 feet that was set over a century ago on March 1, 1897, at midweek.

The Mississippi River, south of the confluence with the Ohio River, is not only expected to keep rising early in the week, but through at least the first full week in March.

The river south of Memphis, Tennessee, can reach moderate flood stage by or during this weekend.

River Feb 24

The Mississippi River at Natchez, Mississippi, is expected to rise to 57 feet by Friday, putting the river at major flood stage. At that level, residents who access their homes via Bourke Road, located south of the city, will have to use boats.

At Memphis, the river is projected to climb to 41 feet and its fourth highest level on record in early March. Not since May 2011 has the river been so high.

Memphis river flooding Feb 24

A low-lying park sits flooded by the swollen Mississippi River on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee. Located on Memphis' Mud Island, Greenbelt Park (pictured) floods when the Mississippi River reaches high levels. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz).

It is possible that crest projections will have to be pushed farther into the future and levels raised as more rain is on the horizon for the river basins.

“Latest indications are for more heavy rain and thunderstorms across the Southeast around March 1-2,” according to AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

Some rain can even begin to soak the Tennessee Valley starting on the final day of February.

However, not enough rain is likely to fall from this storm at the end of this week to significantly impact existing flooding or trigger anything more than sporadic flash flooding.

Additional rounds of rain can follow through the first half of March, and Pastelok is especially concerned for a storm to bring flooding rain back to the Tennessee Valley and Gulf of Mexico states around March 8-10.

Areas from northern Louisiana to Kentucky and the southern Appalachian Mountains are highly susceptible to new flooding following this excessively wet February.

With a total of 13.47 inches, this month is now the wettest February on record at Nashville, Tennessee, and the city’s seventh all-time wettest month.

New BNA rain Feb 24

A February rainfall record was also set at Huntsville, Alabama, with 12.60 inches.

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