2021 sees most flooding deaths in Tennessee since records began

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – This year has certainly been a terrible year for flooding in Tennessee.

As a matter of fact, 2021 has brought the most fatalities from flooding in our state since records began being kept for flooding deaths in 1996.

So far this year, a total of 28 fatalities have happened in Tennessee, 27 of which were here in Middle Tennessee.

This even surpasses the Flood of 2010, when 22 people lost their lives. Almost all of these tragic deaths occurred during two major flash floods.

“This year we have those two big flood events,” explained Caroline Adcock, Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Nashville. “Obviously, Waverly and then we had the one back in March that was more in Maury, Cheatham, and Davidson counties, as well as parts of Wilson and Williamson counties.

“Both of them were pretty different events. I know the one back in March, that happened a little bit overnight with prolonged kind of ‘flashy’ rivers. A lot of our rivers in the Metro area, especially when we get heavy rainfall, the water doesn’t have anywhere to go. So, we have these rivers that will go up and down really, really quickly,” Adcock said.

That’s different than in 2010, when we initially had flash flooding in places like Antioch on Interstate-24 at Bell Road from Mill Creek and in West Nashville along Richland Creek. That then evolved into prolonged flooding, as larger rivers like the Cumberland and Duck continued to rise, causing flooding for weeks.

“Waverly on the other hand, that was just kind of a worst-case scenario,” explained Adcock.

“The heaviest rainfall, I know some of the gauge reports we’ve gone up to 17 and 18 inches that fell in McEwen. It went down Trace Creek which unfortunately flows right through Waverly.”

In the March flood in Nashville, there were other factors involved.

“Downtown, especially urban sprawl with downtown, we have more development, and more areas being built,” Adcock explained. “And that changes what happens with the water after it falls from the sky.”

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