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Tennessee Tech Senior Notices Flaw In Cummins Falls Flood Sensors

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Tennessee Tech Senior Notices Flaw In Cummins Falls Flood Sensors

A Tech student working on his senior thesis discovered a flaw in the Cummins Falls State Park flash-flood sensors.

A flood warning system was installed after a sudden rain event proved deadly in 2017. Geology major Alexander Brant said his Professor, Evan Hart, worked with TDEC to develop the system.

“In the process of working on this flood warning system they forgot to put something in account,” Brant said. “Now, there are a lot of things that can lead to flooding and one of the things we talked about was run off. Now, my focus on my research was to focus on infiltration measurements in the Blackburn Fork Watershed, which feeds into Cummins Falls.”

Infiltration is when rain water soaks into the ground at a rate quicker than it can be absorbed. That creates runoff that can lead to flooding. Brant said his research focuses on getting infiltration measurements at Cummins Falls and the Blackburn Fork Watershed.

“This run off eventually feeds into Cummins Falls, and so this research was mostly to build a stronger understanding of how infiltration effects the Black Burn Fork Watershed and to see how we’re able to update the flood warning system to keep into account those infiltration measurements,” Brant said.

Brant said he hopes his research and the research of those who come after him will eventually help to solve other issues with the flood warning system.

“They do have a pretty good understanding of when we need to warn people to get out of the park or not to be in the park, but we actually don’t know how much time or basically what that buffer zone is for us to let people know to basically leave the park or the park is not safe for them to be there,” Brant said.

Brant said he started working with the flood warning system as a freshmen in 2020. He said he was introduced to the work by senior Jason Gentry.

“Unfortunately, Jason Gentry passed away January 19, 2022 of brain cancer, and so this has been kind of been one of the projects I wanted to continue the work he did on the flood warning system,” Brant said. “I wanted to work on this project like I worked with him on it to continue his legacy.”

Brant said it would be difficult to apply his research to other flash flood warning system because infiltration measurements vary greatly based on location.

“There might be some locations that infiltration rates or infiltration measurements aren’t important when it comes to these measurements,” Brant said. “For some places, especially if we talk about a dessert like Arizona, they are already expecting to have run off because the ground won’t absorb it fast enough. It kind of depends on the location, but especially here in Tennessee where we have what’s called karst systems, where we have like a lot of caves, it is important to understand how infiltration might be a factor of these flooding systems.”


The post Tennessee Tech Senior Notices Flaw In Cummins Falls Flood Sensors appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.