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Rainfall and snowmelt no issue for USACE Cumberland River Basin Dams

Nashville District
Published Jan. 26, 2024
Updated: Jan. 26, 2024
Kentucky Lock on a foggy day

Kentucky Lock fog

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 25, 2024) – As Tennessee weather moves from snow and ice to rain and runoff, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District notes ample, seasonal levels in water storage capacity at its 10 dams in the Cumberland River Basin.

Tennessee received three to 10 inches of snow Jan. 14-15. Due to persistent below-freezing temperatures, it took more than a week to melt.

Nashville District water managers say projected rainfall tomorrow and later in the week, combined with snowmelt, is no cause of concern for USACE water storage in the Cumberland River Basin.

“As far as our storage reservoirs go, we’re in wonderful shape,” said Nashville District Hydraulic Engineer Robert Dillingham. “We’re at seasonal levels, if not a little below where they usually are this time of year. We have lots of storage available at this time.”

Dillingham went on to explain how snowmelt differs from rainfall.

“We do calculate the liquid water equivalent of snowpack. It’s important to note that five inches of snow is not the same as five inches of rain. The actual liquid equivalent of that snow will vary.  With this most recent snowfall, the liquid equivalent of snow on the ground was generally less than 0.5”.”

In Tennessee, melting snow and ice has saturated the soil and provided for increased runoff. Almost all the current and upcoming rain will be runoff. Dead grass and water-saturated-soil means the water will mostly pool or run over the ground. USACE maintains communication with water management partners for situational awareness and to mitigate threats.

“We talk to TVA every single day, regardless of what’s going on,” said Dillingham. “The weather service will receive our data every day, and we have regular communications at the federal, state and local levels.”

USACE maintains a balance between keeping seasonal levels and releasing safe amounts of water downstream of its large storage reservoirs and run of the river projects throughout the year.

“Our experts work 24/7 to monitor USACE locks and dams and water levels for continued commercial navigation. We also monitored our hydropower plants throughout the extreme snow event and our projects performed as designed providing critical electricity for the public,” said Lt. Col. Robert W. Green, Nashville District commander. “A vital part of our mission is to reduce disaster risk like floods, but personal preparedness is key to protect yourself and loved ones for extreme weather.”

Weather can be unpredictable, and USACE urges everyone to exercise caution and prepare for extreme weather events. Many people do not realize two feet of water on a highway or bridge can float most vehicles. If the water is moving rapidly, the car, truck or SUV can be swept off the bridge and into a body of water. Water can erode the roadbed, creating unsafe driving conditions. Underpasses can fill with water, while the adjacent roadway remains clear. Many flash floods occur at night when flooded roads are difficult to see. Information for preparing for cold weather can be found at https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District manages the Cumberland River and its tributaries, balancing the demands for water releases to flood risk management, commercial navigation, production of hydropower, recreation, fish and wildlife, water supply and water quality.

Go to

to learn how the Nashville District manages water in the Cumberland River Basin.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at USACE Nashville, on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow Cordell Hull Lake on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cordellhulllake.)

 


Contact
USACE Public Affairs
615-736-7161
chief.public-affairs@usace.army.mil

Release no. 24-013

Chick Lock

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