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Water-Supply Paper 2375 (Tennessee Section)

WSP 2375. Weaver, J.D., 1991, Tennessee--Floods and droughts, in Paulson, R.W., Chase, E.B., Roberts, R.S., and Moody, D.W., comps., National water summary 1988-89--hydrologic events and floods and droughts: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2375, p. 505-512.


Tennessee's climate is moderate and is characterized by cool winters, warm summers, and plentiful rainfall. At times, however, Tennessee has been subject to the climatic extremes of flood and drought.

Flooding in Tennessee generally is associated with frontal systems during late winter and early spring but may result from summer thunderstorms or the remnants of deteriorating tropical cyclones. Some of the greatest floods in Tennessee were recorded in 1929, 1948, 1963, 1973, 1975, and 1977. Tennessee's tendency to flood has led to the development of extensive public works projects to decrease the effects of flooding. The Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers both operate numerous flood-control facilities in the State.

Although rainfall in the State normally is plentiful, with an annual average of about 50 inches, some droughts have been severe. The drought of 1938-45 was particularly severe. Other significant droughts were in 1952-56, 1963-72, 1980-82, and 1985-88. Because the recent droughts have increased the public's awareness of drought, many people now realize that Tennessee's abundant water supply has limitations.

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