During the two-day event in May 2010, some areas received rainfall amounts exceeding 17 inches, the highest two-day total with more than 140 years of record. The Nashville area received more than 13 inches of rain in 36 hours, more than doubling the previous two-day rainfall record set in September 1979.
Much of the rain fell in areas downstream of the Corps’ flood risk management projects, which made them unable to play a major role in reducing flood crests on the Cumberland River. Record water flow from the Harpeth and Red Rivers, Mill Creek and numerous other tributaries flowed unchecked into the main stem Cumberland River, producing the historic crests observed at Nashville, Cheatham Lock and Dam, and Clarksville.
Three projects set pools of record and maximum water flow release records: Old Hickory, Cordell Hull and Cheatham set a maximum water flow release record. Old Hickory came within 6.6 inches of overtopping the lock wall. The Cumberland River literally overtopped Cheatham Lock and Dam.
The Nashville District Water Management Section and Hydropower Operators at Corps dams applied all of their experience and expertise in a dramatic flood fight. Their tireless and in some cases heroic efforts, prevented a higher crest in downtown Nashville.