Metro officials are making emergency preparations for what National Weather Service forecasters say could be the area’s most severe storm of the year Wednesday, producing three to five inches of rain and weather ripe for potential tornadoes, damaging winds and strong thunderstorms.
“We see a pretty strong potential for possibly the strongest storm of the year to affect all of Middle Tennessee,” National Weather Service meteorologist Larry Vannozzi told reporters Tuesday evening at Metro’s Emergency Operations Center.
Though Vannozzi said storms could begin late Tuesday evening, he said meteorologists are more concerned with the storms forecasted all day Wednesday when the threat of tornadoes will be at its highest. He said Wednesday will have elevated chances of strong thunderstorms, damaging winds, large hail and “possibly more than just a couple of tornadoes.
“It’s really potentially one of the most threatening days for us for the year,” Vannozzi said. He added that weather officials are equally concerned with both the threat of strong storms and flooding.
Metro’s Office of Emergency Management has been activated since Tuesday morning.
Metro Fire Chief Stephen Halford, who serves as director of the emergency management office, cautioned that any flooding would be minor to moderate flooding on the city’s five tributaries. He said the Cumberland River isn’t expected to rise above its flood stage.
For precautionary reasons, Halford said the city has 8,000 sand bags on standby courtesy of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. He said if citizens see sand bags in their area, it does not mean flooding is imminent.
“We’re trying to be proactive,” Halford said.
Halford also said Metro is utilizing its flood inundation map system, which details areas along tributaries that are experiencing flooding and alerts officials if action should be taken. Twenty-five water-elevation gauges are stationed along waterways throughout the county, he said, which notify officials of potential problems.
Mayor Karl Dean encouraged Nashvillians to stay informed of weather developments throughout Wednesday evening.
“Keep your eyes on the news,” Dean said.
“While none of us at this moment know the extent of the upcoming storms, I want to assure Nashvillians that the city is prepared,” Dean said. “The Emergency Operations Center is open and will be constantly monitoring weather developments around the clock.”