J1.3 The Nashville Flood of 2010, A Broadcaster’s Perspective

Wednesday, 26 June 2013: 9:30 AM
Tulip Grove BR (Sheraton Music City Hotel)
Davis Nolan, WKRN TV, Nashville, TN

The Nashville Flood of 2010, A Broadcaster's Perspective Meteorologist Davis Nolan, WKRN TV Nashville, TN Although we have covered many tornado and severe weather outbreaks in Middle Tennessee, never has one event affected so many of our viewers. While the national media focused on effects on the country music industry, thousands of ordinary people in Middle Tennessee were flooded out of their homes not only by the Cumberland River, but by the numerous creeks and smaller tributaries that feed both the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. As most floods, the event unfolded in stages. First, the smaller tributaries and streams flooded, then the major rivers over a 3 day period. During Day 1, we broadcasted live “play by play” of I-24 being inundated by Mill Creek (a Cumberland River tributary, swallowing cars up to their rooftops and eventually floating a portable classroom from a school on Mill Creek down the interstate. I will show the video of our broadcasted sequence of events.

On Day 2, the creeks and tributaries continued to flood, as the Cumberland River steadily rose. It was on the night of Day 2 and during Day 3 that suddenly the Cumberland River flooded much of Nashville. I will explain a controversy that brought testimony to Congress on how the Army Corps of Engineers suddenly released a large amount of water from Old Hickory Dam (upstream of Nashville) without informing the National Weather Service. The river stage forecast that so many agencies were depending on to make important decisions was suddenly obsolete, without the National Weather Service's knowledge for quite some time. The Corps had no choice but to release the water, but there was no communication, causing a lot of confusion. I myself went on a 10pm broadcast showing the NWS forecast that the Cumberland River would crest overnight, only to see it rise close to 3 feet higher before cresting some 24 hours later. This changed everything! I will also show a brief synoptic review of the weather situation and the record rainfall.

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