Tornadoes struck central Tennessee early Tuesday morning leaving at least 19 people dead, more than 150 hospitalized and thousands without power.
One of the massive ‘supercells’ swept through downtown Nashville, knocking out power and tearing through at least 50 buildings. More than 47,800 were without power, according to Nashville Electric Service who said four of its substations were damaged. Half of those are customers are located in the Hermitage area.
‘Last night was a reminder about how fragile life is,’ Nashville Mayor John Cooper said at a Tuesday morning news conference.
The death toll jumped to 19 on Tuesday, Tennessee Emergency Management Spokeswoman Maggie Hannan said, after police and fire crews spent hours pulling survivors and bodies from wrecked buildings.
It’s possible the death toll could continue to climb as authorities survey the landscape littered with blown-down walls and roofs, snapped power lines and huge broken trees.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee also said ‘a number of people’ are still missing and about 156 have been hospitalize.
‘It is heartbreaking. We have had loss of life all across the state,’ Lee said. The governor ordered all non-essential state workers to stay home Tuesday before going up in a helicopter to survey the damage.
Lee didn’t give a specific count on the unaccounted-for individuals but he did say that 30 rescue workers have suffered injuries while searching for victims.
Schools, courts and transit lines were closed, and some damaged polling stations were moved only hours before Super Tuesday voting was set to begin.
Residents of the historic Germantown neighborhood walked around in dismay as emergency crews closed off roads.
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Homes collapsed on some residents, forcing first responders from local police and fire stations to work in the middle of the night to free them
Bill and Shirley Wallace were rescued from the rubble of their home shortly after the tornado destroyed their residence
Rescue workers were seen freeing the couple from their Barrett Drive home that collapsed on them. Bill Wallace is seen reaching out to rescuers following the tornado
Shirley Wallace (being carried by a first responder) was taken to a local hospital for medical attention after she was rescued
The building housing The Soda Parlor and Clean Juice in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood was destroyed in the tornado that hit the city on Tuesday
The tornadoes left a trail of devastation as it passed through Camden, Cookeville and Mt Juliet. Downtown Nashville was also severely damaged
‘In the interest of safety we are asking all non-essential employees in the Nashville area to remain home today and use their best judgment,’ Lee said.
‘We have activated the State Emergency Operations Center and are engaged with emergency and local officials throughout the affected areas. Please join Maria and me in praying for the victims, their families, and all those tragically affected by this storm.’
President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the state Tuesday morning.
CASUALTIES BY COUNTY FROM THE OVERNIGHT TORNADOES
Authorities confirmed the following counties had causalities from Tuesday morning’s tornadoes:
• 14 in Putnam County
• Two in Wilson County
• Two in Davidson County
• One in Benton County
‘Prayers for all of those affected by the devastating tornadoes in Tennessee. We will continue to monitor the developments. The Federal Government is with you all of the way during this difficult time.’
It’s unclear how many people have been displaced by the storm systems, but Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville tweeted: ‘Today at 11:00 a.m., we’re opening our doors to those impacted by the tornadoes for a safe, calm place to have lunch.’
Three people died in Putnam County, officials told WSMV, and two deaths were reported in East Nashville, Metro Nashville Police Department confirmed. Benton County authorities then said another person was killed when a mobile home overturned.
Rescue workers were seen freeing a couple from their Barrett Drive home that collapsed on them.
Bill and Shirley Wallace became trapped under rubble during the tornado. Shirley was taken to a local hospital for medical attention.
Actor Scott Baio tweeted that he was worried about his in-laws who live in Nashville, Tennessee.
‘OMG! We haven’t been able to make any contact with my in laws or my brother in law. Only Renee’s younger sister Brandy, and a cousin. Please pray for our family and the Nashville area,’ Baio tweeted early Tuesday morning.
Baio later followed that tweet up with another that reads: ‘A lot of property loss & damage at Tuckers Crossroads where my in laws live. We JUST heard, by text message, they’re alive!
‘No power & now the cleanup begins. Thanks for the prayers & kind words. Middle Tennessee needs a lot of prayers for the community right now.’
Tornadoes struck central Tennessee early Tuesday morning leaving at least 19 people dead, multiple injured and thousands without power as high winds wreaked a trail of destruction
A resident photographs damage after a tornado touched down on Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee
A man walks through storm debris following a deadly tornado in Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday
The landscape was littered with blown-down walls and roofs, snapped power lines and huge broken trees as people started to survey damage near their homes
A man makes his way through debris following one of the deadly tornadoes on Tuesday morning in Nashville, Tennessee
People are reflected in a mirror of a building destroyed by storms on Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee
Damaged U-Haul trucks sit on a sidewalk and the street following the deadly tornadoes in Nashville, Tennessee
Workers look over damage in their neighborhood in the Germantown are of Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday
The pool at Vista Germantown apartment complex shows damage after a tornado hit Nashville on Tuesday
Aerial footage showed buildings and homes that were destroyed when the tornado tore through the Nashville Metro Area.
Roofs had been torn off apartment buildings, large trees uprooted and debris littered many sidewalks.
Walls were toppled, exposing living rooms and kitchens in damaged homes. Mangled power lines and broken trees came to rest on cars, streets and piles of rubble.
Experts explain why people don’t but should heed weather warnings
Oftentimes people do not heed weather warnings despite the release of warnings and alerts days before some of the most unprecedented storms.
For example, in March 2019 a total of 23 people were killed in Lee County after a tornado tore through Alabama.
That particular storm system was an unprecedented one for an area that had not actually seen anything like it before.
In other words, residents were caught off guard when the tornado touched down and became the most violent twister to hit the area in recent memory.
Meteorologists release warnings for residents of affected areas to have enough time to gather some belongings and make sure their family members are either ready to evacuate or are properly prepared for the weather system.
But sometimes those warnings aren’t heeded due to the ways in which people interpret them.
Kim Klockow McClain, a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Mesocscale Meteorological Studies explained that some people know that ‘even if a region in general is at risk, that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a tornado that hits their house’.
She told NPR that some people do what experts call ‘confirming the threat’.
‘They’ll be watching, and maybe they’ll go get their children. But they won’t necessarily take shelter until things get a little bit closer,’ she said.
Klockow says meteorologists need to ‘experiment with different communication strategies’ in order to persuade people to take action when warnings are released.
Terrifying footage showed lightening flashing across the sky and debris strewn across roads as the storm struck.
A reported gas leak forced an evacuation of the IMT building in the Germantown community, according to WSMV.
Police said the emergency services launched searches for people still trapped in the wreckage of damaged buildings.
One tornado near downtown reportedly stayed on the ground into Hermitage, about 10 miles east of the city.
The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed the tornado touched down in the early hours of this morning and warned residents to ‘take cover’.
The service tweeted: ‘Tornado still confirmed on the ground near Hermitage. THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO! TAKE COVER NOW IN WILSON COUNTY!!!’
Tuesday’s tornado system was the third to rip threw downtown Nashville. According to the NWS, the previous two twisters occurred in the city in 1933 and 1998.
The ‘March 3, 2020 Nashville Tornado had a path near but not quite exactly like the tornadoes of April 16, 1998 & March 14, 1933,’ the service said.
Both the 1998 and 1933 tornadoes hit during the afternoon while Tuesday’s occurred just after midnight.
On Super Tuesday in February 2008, Nashville residents fell victim to a night time system that caused damage across Middle Tennessee during a tornado outbreak.
Videos emerged on social media showing lightening flashing across the sky and an apartment building gutted by high winds.
An apartment complex in Nashville was left heavily damaged and residents in the Germantown area of the city were evacuated from the building after the twister struck.
Images showed extensive damage to buildings, mangled wires on downed power lines and structures that are now unrecognizable as the tornado had reduced them to rubble.
One photo showed a white vinyl fence that had fallen a car. Another showed the roof and walls gone from a building that still had what appeared to be boxes stacked on shelves.
A witnesses of the Nashville tornado said it was a ‘rough night in Germantown’ as the twister went straight overhead.
One video posted online from east Nashville showed what appeared to be a well-defined tornado moving quickly across the city.
The whirl of the wind could be heard gusting after the tornado moved out of sight in the clip.
Photos showed dozens of people in the street carrying their belongings outside the IMT building not long after the tornado moved through the city.
A home in Cookeville, Tennessee, was destroyed by high winds from one of several tornadoes that tore through the state overnight
Another home was damaged by high winds from one of several tornadoes that tore through the state overnight on Tuesday
Crews work to clear roadways of debris caused by one of the tornadoes that tore through the state overnight in Cookeville, Tennessee
Nashville Fire Department are responding to reports of at least 50 building collapses around the city and warned residents to stay away from downed power lines and storm debris.
‘Our community has been impacted significantly,’ the Mt Juliet Police Department tweeted early on Tuesday. ‘We continue to search for injured. Stay home if you can.’
Captain Chandler said in a Facebook video: ‘Our community has been greatly impacted by a tornado. ‘There are multiple homes damaged and multiple people injured. Our officers are in the early stages of this response and we continue to assess what is happening.
John C. Tune Airport, Nashville International’s sister airport in West Nashville, ‘sustained significant damage due to severe weather’, spokeswoman Kim Gerlock said in a statement.
Several hangars have been destroyed and power lines are down, she said.
Gerlock asked that the public avoid the airport until further notice and that the Airport Authority has activated its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down near downtown Nashville on Tuesday. Pictured is lightening flashing across the sky in the early hours of this morning
A house on North Mt Juliet road was destroyed after a tornado ripped through neighborhoods in Mt Juliet, Tennessee on Tuesday
Debris scattered across the parking lot of a damaged apartment building after the tornado hit Nashville in the early hours
Damaged vehicles and buildings seen in East Nashville after a tornado hit the city in the early morning hours of Tuesday
Emergency crews working near a damaged business at Jefferson Street and Seventh Avenue in Nashville, Tennessee, today
A resident making her way down Underwood Street in Nashville, Tennessee, amidst downed trees and heavy debris today
Mt Juliet Police Department said many homes had been damaged and multiple people had been injured and trapped in buildings by the storm.
‘There are multiple homes damaged, multiple people injured, multiple people still trapped. We need your help.’
Chandler went on to say that first responders were doing their best to help those in need.
He added: ‘There are gas lines that are leaking, power lines that are on the ground, and multiple emergency responders are responding to those who are injured and trying to get them the help that they need.
‘We appreciate your concern, your prayers. Continue to pray for our first responders and those that are injured and we will continue to keep you updated.’
The tornado reportedly stayed on the ground into Hermitage, about 10 miles east of the city in Tennessee.
Residents watching on as emergency crews attend to a tornado damaged apartment building on Jefferson Street in Nashville
Music City Cleaners dry cleaning service was left heavily damaged from the 45mph winds that struck Nashville today
A police car in front of a wrecked building housing a dry cleaning business in Nashville, Tennessee, in the early hours of this morning
The Geist restaurant brick wall collapsed in the tornado that touched down in downtown Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday
A mural on the heavily damaged The Basement East in the East Nashville neighborhood today in Nashville, Tennessee
A man walking by a storm damaged pickup truck covered in branches on Underwood Street today in Nashville, Tennessee
Serious damage was caused in many parts of town including Germantown, where some of the worst damage to homes and businesses were seen.
The live music venue Basement East ‘sustained significant damage’, but all staff working inside are not injured, the venue said on social media.
Two tornado warnings in Putnam County, east of Nashville, were reported. The NWS said the tornadoes were confirmed on radar.
County Mayor Randy Porter told CNN in a Facebook message that Putnam County saw ‘several critically injured’ people.
Metro Nashville Public Schools said its schools would be closed on Tuesday because of the tornado damage. Wilson County, just east of metro Nashville will close schools for the rest of the week.
The disaster also impacted voting in Tennessee, one of 14 Super Tuesday states. Some polling sites in Nashville were moved, and polls in Davidson and Wilson counties were opening an hour late but still closing at 8pm Eastern, Secretary of State Tre Hargett announced.
Residents watching on as emergency crews attend to a tornado damaged apartment building on Jefferson Street in Nashville
Downed power lines left thousands without electricity across Nashville today
Vehicles passing by damaged buildings on Jefferson Street after a tornado passed through the area in Nashville, Tennessee
Residents walking by a tornado damaged apartment building on Jefferson Street in Nashville, Tennessee earlier today
A damaged horse trailer lying toppled over at the Hidden Acres Farm after a storm touched down in the area around Nashville
A tornado that ripped through Nashville overnight downed power lines and toppled trees in the Donelson area on Tuesday
Jeff Roberts of the Elections Commission said in a statement earlier today that information about damage to polling stations is being collected.
Any voter in Davidson County whose assigned precinct has been impacted may vote at the Election Commission Offices, the statement said.
Meanwhile, heavy rain is expected to impact Gulf Coast states over the next several days. The rains will bring the potential for flash flooding in several southern states, forecasters said.
Rainfall on Tuesday is expected to saturate the soil in Alabama, setting the stage for possible flash flooding by mid-week, the NWS said. Up to six inches of rain is possible from this week’s expected rains in Alabama.
Isolated severe storms will be possible from east Texas to the Carolinas on Monday, according to the National Storm Prediction Center in Normal, Oklahoma.
Northern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas and west Tennessee are among areas where severe storms will be most likely.
Spring storms will bring snow from western mountains across the country as the Gulf Coast states get hit with heavy rain
. The rains will bring the potential for flash flooding in several southern states, forecasters said. Rainfall on Tuesday is expected to saturate the soil in Alabama, setting the stage for possible flash flooding by mid-week, the NWS said. Up to six inches of rain is possible from this week’s expected rains in Alabama
Isolated severe storms will be possible from east Texas to the Carolinas on Monday, according to the National Storm Prediction Center in Normal, Oklahoma
Early morning storms also damaged homes and toppled trees in rural central Alabama, where the National Weather Service (NWS) reported winds up to 60mph and issued tornado warnings for at least five counties.
In rural Bibb County southwest of Birmingham, seven poll workers were getting ready to open the doors to Super Tuesday voters at the Lawley Senior Activity Center when cellphone alerts began going off with a tornado warning about 6.45am, said volunteer Gwen Thompson.
‘Our children were calling too, telling us, “Get in the bathroom!”‘ she said. ‘We all got in the bathroom and we’re OK, but lots of trees are down.’
The storm knocked out electricity, Thompson said, but the precinct’s two electronic voting machines had battery backups and a few people had cast ballots less than an hour later.
‘We’ve been voting by flashlight,’ Thompson said.
Northern and central Georgia could see up to five inches of rain from showers and storms Monday through Thursday, forecaster said.
In Mississippi, some flash flooding is expected Tuesday night through Wednesday night, the weather service said.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains in California have already been covered in a foot of snow
At least four people are dead in Wyoming and dozens injured in a pileup that happened amid blowing snow overnight
Over 50 gauges in the south are already above flood level but more could be triggered as south of the Mississippi Valley and south of the Interstate 20 braces for two to five inches of rainfall.
But the culmination of days-long rain in the south poses danger for the likes of Houston, New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle by Wednesday. Residents in the south have been warned to look out for hail stones the size of softballs and more potentially deadly tornadoes.
Other places have already seen severe weather this week like the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and the Rockies in Wyoming, which are covered in a foot of snow.
At least four people were killed in Wyoming and dozens more injured in a pileup that happened amid blowing snow.
The wreck happened in snowy, blustery weather Sunday on Interstate 80 about 180 miles west of Cheyenne.
About 30 people were taken to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital of Carbon County in the small city of Rawlins.
Officials at the 25-bed hospital called in in three extra doctors and set up a temporary patient holding area in a cafeteria.
Forecasters predicted snow driven by wind up to 50mph would continue to affect travel until Tuesday.