After several inches of rain across Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority is managing its 49 dams to prevent flooding while maximizing power production.
"Normal weekend rainfall is only about an inch, so we've seen three to four and five times that normal amount during an entire week over the last couple of day," TVA River Forecast Center manager James Everett said.
Everett says the authority is generating as much power as possible, but is having to spill water at the seven dams downstream of Watts Bar on the Tennessee River, plus others on tributary systems like Melton Hill.
"The decisions we make here in East Tennessee, how much water we have and how much water we're releasing can impact areas all the way to Alabama, out in West Tennessee and even releases out into the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers," Everett said.
Sunday evening Melton Hill Dam was spilling water at 150,000 gallons per second.
At the end of the river system at Kentucky Dam, TVA was spilling water at 1.5 million gallons per second.
TVA spills water downstream while holding water higher up the river to prevent flooding.
Lakes like Norris, Douglas, Cherokee and Fontana are major reservoirs managed to hold water while areas downstream deal with high flows.
Between Friday morning and Sunday night, the level at all four of those lakes had risen around six feet. Everett says the lakes could rise twice that before TVA releases the water.
"We don't want to use all the storage during this event because we're still in February," Everett said. "February is typically a wet month, March can be wet, so once it does stop raining, we will typically be aggressive in terms of how quickly we start releasing that water so we can get ready for the next rain event."