Downpours representing the leftovers of Tropical Storm Fred are set to hit the county late Tuesday, meteorologists say, triggering a flash flood watch in Blount and surrounding areas.
The system’s tail end will lessen in force by the time it reaches East Tennessee but not before dumping a significant amount of rain.
Meteorologist Sam Roberts with the National Weather Service’s Morristown office said by phone Monday the main timeframe for Blount’s rain will be today or tonight.
“Really, for Blount County, you may have some light showers around Wednesday morning, but the system should be exiting by then,” Roberts said. “Most of Wednesday should be pretty dry.”
He said Monday through early Wednesday, Blount’s more populated areas will get about 2-2 ½ inches of rain.
“Once you get closer to the mountains, we are expecting to see higher totals,” he added. Blount’s higher elevations may see around 2½-3½ inches, with possible peaks around 4 inches.
The flash flood watch, Roberts said, begins Tuesday at 8 a.m. and expires Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Storms will hit Blount and surrounding counties at the same time, Roberts added.
Local emergency response leaders and experts are keeping an eye on the system.
Blount County Emergency 911 Director James Long said Monday he and others can make more accurate decisions within 13-14 hours of the event. They know the system is on its way, but late Monday afternoon, it wasn’t representing a significant threat.
“As of right now we’re just kind of monitoring,” Long said. “What we normally experience is, of course, flooding in the low-lying areas. A lot of our roads end up getting closed temporarily until the water dissipates. But we’re not expecting anything more than that, at least right now.”
The severity of heavy rains can vary extremely from county to county in East Tennessee.
Where Sevier and Knox counties may experience heavy flooding, Blount may go through torrential rains without a hitch.
“We just don’t know,” Long explained. “We’re surrounded by the mountains. So sometimes it comes in right on us, sometimes with different winds, the jet stream and the mountains and things like that, it’ll miss us.”
Since levels may be higher in the mountains, Townsend Area Volunteer Fire Department Chief Don Stallions said his crew is prepared for any eventuality.
“Usually in a downpour, Little River can handle it,” Stallions said. “The problem we get into is if that storm system was to stall over the Smokies.”
That river rises because water streams down from the mountains, threatening property and roads.
It also uproots trees, especially when combined with high winds.
Roberts said winds in the area may reach up to 20 mph gusts Tuesday.
Anyone driving should be aware of falling trees, flooded and closed roads and slippery conditions.
The Blount County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page typically posts about road closures if necessary.