The Tennessee River at Florence was expected to surpass flood stage Sunday night and the area is under a flood warning that extends throughout the week.

Local officials urge the public to stay off rivers and lakes during the duration of the flood warning.

Flood stage is 18 feet for the river at McFarland Park. The river is expected to crest at 19.5 feet at Florence by Tuesday night, said Andrew Pritchett, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Huntsville.

The weather service issued a flood warning that started Sunday and continues through the week before expiring this coming Sunday.

Pritchett said the Tennessee Valley Authority is releasing water through its dam systems due to flooding upstream.

The weather service's flood warning states the underpass below Mitchell Boulevard likely will close because of the potential for flooding.

George Grabryan, director of the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency, said water is rising rapidly and moving swiftly due to the massive releases from the TVA dams, including Wilson Dam.

According to TVA's online reservoir information, Wilson Dam will continue "spilling until further notice." By 3 p.m. Sunday, the dam was releasing water at a rate of 191,386 cubic feet per second.

Grabryan said campers have been evacuated from McFarland Park.

"We're hoping everybody will stay off the water until this gets back to normal," Grabryan said. "You would be endangering yourself by going out there and if something goes bad, you're going to be endangering the people who would be coming to rescue you."

The area has received a great deal of rain in recent days, with the weather service's TVA station at Muscle Shoals recording 2.63 inches during a 24-hour period that began at 6 a.m. Saturday.

No rain is forecast today, but there is a 40 percent chance of showers Tuesday night, according to the weather service. Rain chances are 50 percent Wednesday, 60 percent Wednesday night, 40 percent Thursday, 20 percent Thursday night, 60 percent Friday, 50 percent Friday night, 30 percent Saturday and 40 percent Saturday night.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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