Rain traffic

Dark skies and heavy rain along the U.S. Highway 129 Bypass created additional danger for drivers Aug. 17.

Tropical Cyclone Ida is making its way across the Southeast in a pattern similar to its predecessor, Tropical Storm Fred, and Blount County is under a flash flood watch today through Wednesday afternoon.

County officials estimate Blount could start seeing rainfall as soon as overnight into early morning.

Meteorologists estimate some of the heaviest rainfall is set to reach Blount County late today, Aug. 31.

“The remnants of Ida are going to continue to move through the Deep South today and overnight,” Morristown-stationed National Weather Service meteorologist Brandon Wasilewski said Monday. “Your heaviest rain in Blount County will fall later Tuesday into the night and gradually taper off throughout the day on Wednesday.”

Wasilewski also said the weather shift — which will come with a cold front — could bring risks of isolated tornadoes.

“That would be more during the day Tuesday,” he noted. “It’s a low-end threat, but certainly there is that concern.”

Rain levels are expected to be mostly identical to the heavy rain that blew through Aug. 17. A little more than 2 inches of rain are expected in Blount.

That level may be higher up in the mountains.

When tatters of Fred came through East Tennessee weeks ago, Townsend’s Little River went up to a more than 7,000-cubic-foot discharge per second (cfs). That’s a lot, but not enough to cause serious damage.

Townsend Area Volunteer Fire Department Chief Don Stallions said his crews are keeping an eye on the situation, just like they were last time.

“We start getting into serious issues around 8,500 (cfs),” Stallions said Monday. “That’s when we start mobilizing a little bit.”

At around 6,000 cfs, Carnes Road at Cedar Creek gets flooded, he added.

Waters were high enough in mid-August to momentarily shut down tubing companies in Townsend.

Blount County Emergency 911 Director Jimmy Long said Monday he’ll add some extra staff to their operations just in case.

“We’ll make changes ... throughout the day if we need to,” Long said.

He noted the county didn’t see much increased activity following the previous storm system.

Blount County Highway Superintendent Jeff Headrick echoed that, explaining there was no notable flooding in the county when Fred’s remnant’s visited.

However, he said he called a staff meeting Monday to prepare for today’s rain.

“We’re already getting trailers, signs and barricades ready,” he said, “trying to make sure we’re ready to roll.”

When people are traveling, especially if it’s in the dark, they should avoid areas that flood often and never drive through water, even if it seems passable, Headrick said.

Fallen trees, power outages and some wind also are possible throughout the rough patch of weather.

Blount often remains unscathed during bouts of severe weather while other counties see more concentrated flooding and heavier rain.

But Wasilewski noted patterns can always change as they move north and that locals should remain vigilant.

Western North Carolina and Middle Tennessee in August saw tragic swaths of weather that, combined, left nearly 30 people dead.

Ida hit Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 storm. Rescue operations there are still underway. Millions are still without power and early reports and images emerging from the disaster show many damaged homes and businesses.

The Associated Press reported Monday the storm was to blame for at least two deaths.

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

Andrew joined The Daily Times in 2019 and covers city government and breaking news.

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