Payton Carter paddles his kayak in flooded fields along Horse Creek Tuesday, attempting to enjoy the heavy rains and high waters. Photo by David Grace.
Prolonged rainfall is expected to continue through Wednesday morning across the region, bringing with it the potential for more of the flooding and school schedule changes experienced on Tuesday.
Sullivan County and Hawkins County Schools have already announced they'll be closed Wednesday, while the NWS warns between two and three additional inches of rainfall are possible overnight.
The National Weather Service Forecasting Station in Morristown, Tenn., says that though rainfall should not be especially heavy, its long duration may lead to flooding along some waterways and low lying areas. Multiple county school systems in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia were closed or dismissed early on Tuesday due to the weather, while several roadways were left impassible by rising waters.
On Tuesday afternoon the NWS reported 48 hour rainfall totals, saying Sullivan County had received 2.79 inches. At that time Hawkins County had totaled 3.89 inches since Sunday while Washington County, Tenn., had received 3.33.
NWS forecasters said additional widespread rainfall amounts of between two and three inches were possible over Tuesday night and into Wednesday, with a flood watch in effect through Wednesday morning.
The NWS urged the public to be aware of rising waters and never attempt to pass over a flooded road. Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart echoed that sentiment, saying deputy's observed multiple motorists doing just that on Tuesday.
"Some people are attempting to drive through the water," Earhart said. "The problem is they don't know what is underneath."
As of Wednesday evening five Sullivan County roadways remained closed due to rising waters and flooding; Highway 93 at Horse Creek in Kingsport, the section of Orebank Road near Archcrest Street in Kingsport, Reservoir Road at Long Hollow Road in Kingsport, Tate Road in Bluff City, Huffman Hill Road in Piney Flats.
Earhart encouraged people to keep children and pets away from flooded areas, adding that even adults can be swept off their feet in swift, shallow waters. She also noted that flood waters are often contaminated, so it’s best to avoid contact all together.
For more on this story read Wednesday's print edition of the Times-News.