NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A rural Tennessee community was pummeled Saturday with up to 17 inches (43 centimeters) of rain in less than 24 hours, shattering the state record for one-day rainfall by more than 3 inches and leading to quick-rushing floods that killed at least 22 people and left a trail of destruction.
The hardest-hit areas were inundated with nearly twice the amount of rain the region had seen in the previous worst-case flooding scenario, meteorologists said. Lines of storms moved over the area around the small town of Waverly for hours, wringing out a record amount of moisture — a situation scientists have warned may be more common because of global warming. The devastation centered on Humphreys County, with a population of about 18,000 some 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Nashville.
HOW DID SO MUCH RAIN FALL SO QUICKLY?
A flash flood watch was issued for the area before the rain started, with forecasters saying 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) were possible. Before Saturday’s deluge, the worst storm recorded in this area of central Tennessee dropped more than 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain in 2010, said Krissy Hurley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Nashville.
She said Saturday’s storms kept redeveloping as they moved and went over the same areas repeatedly, resulting in upwards of 3 to 4 inches of rain per hour.