Winter Weather Winding Down at Covenant

photo by by Eden Anyabwile

photo by by Eden Anyabwile

The record amount of rain late 2018 and continuing into 2019 has led to complications on Lookout Mountain and down in Chattanooga. According to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), 2018 was the13th wettest year for the city recorded with 67.01 inches of rain. Though too soon to tell, it does appear that 2019 could continue that record, with 18 inches of rain already reported by Weather Underground.

On top of the visible effect on campus such as the surplus of dripping raincoats, the leaking Chapel ceiling, and the horrific ruining of brand new Converses, there are more pressing outcomes outside our campus as well. Heavy rainfall can lead to mudslides, such as the one seen on Signal Mountain that flattened a Subway fast food restaurant on February 23rd. According to Dr. Heath Garris, the Associate Professor of Biology at Covenant, the mudslide was likely caused by the unstable, super saturation of the ground.

Allan Diegan, a meteorologist in Morristown, TN, came to the same conclusion in a Chattanooga Times Free Press (CTFP) article and also warned of likely flooding due to the rainfall. The National Weather Service reported that the Tennessee River was within six inches of flooding, an event only prevented by the TVA network of dams. Before the TVA put dams in place, Chattanooga was extremely prone to flooding. The city was submerged during the Civil War in 1867. According to TVA statistics, their reservoirs can hold 3.6 trillion gallons of water and prevents an average of $260 million in flood damages each year.

Another impact of the weather is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), escalated by the lack of sunlight caused by the fog. “Low winter lighting causes your brain to release more melatonin (the chemical that makes you sleepy), causing you to lack energy,” said Dr. Manjooran in an article by Rose Hayes with Sharecare. With low winter lighting causing an increase in melatonin, the heavy fog and rain clouds Covenant experiences could heighten the possibility of experiencing seasonal affective disorder.

SAD is a sort of depression that comes and goes with the weather. Healthline outlines the symptoms of the disorder as brain fog, a persistent sad mood, feeling exhausted all the time, a loss of interest in things that usually bring you joy, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and suicidal thoughts.

One way to combat SAD is to get as much natural light as possible. A way to do this in the winter months is via the use of happy lamps, which produce the same type of light as sunlight. Each RD on campus has one that can be borrowed, but they also can be found for as low as $20 on Amazon.

In addition to the mental aspect, lack of sunlight has a physical impact as well. It is advised to get 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day at the very least to trigger your body’s production of Vitamin D, improve brain function, protect against inflammation, as well as the seemingly obvious effect of weight loss and strengthening. Activities done in sunlight, such as running, biking, and other activities are incredibly beneficial to health.

As the month of March counts down to the first day of Spring on March 20th, there will still be rain and fog to combat in a fight for health.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.