Strong tornado hits Nashville, causing extensive damage — at least 24 casualties and 40 structures destroyed, Tennessee, U.S.


A strong tornado hit the city of Nashville, Tennessee on March 3, 2020, causing extensive damage. The twister has left at least 24 people dead and at least 40 buildings destroyed.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declared a state of emergency. "The State of Tennessee has activated a strong coordinated response effort to last night’s devastating storms," Lee said. "In the hours ahead, we will continue deploying search and rescue teams, opening shelters across the state, and sending emergency personnel to our communities hit hardest."

"We have potentially a long-track tornado that began several miles west of Nashville, continued through Nashville and then areas east of Nashville. The city of Cookeville has been hard-hit as well," NWS Nashville said.

"We have sent out storm survey teams to begin assessing the tornado damage. There is a lot to survey. We won't know any EF-ratings until later on, once they've had the opportunity to see the damage first-hand."

"We’ve received a ton of questions on how does this March 3, 2020 tornado compare to the April 16, 1998 and March 14, 1933 downtown Nashville tornadoes," the office added.

"The March 3, 2020 Nashville tornado had a path near but not quite exactly like the tornadoes of April 16, 1998 & March 14, 1933. (See map below.) However, all 3 tornadoes struck the 5 Points area of East Nashville.

"The 1998 and 1933 tornadoes occurred during the afternoon/evening, while the 2020 tornado occurred in the middle of the night. This is also another tornado event occurring on “Super Tuesday” in Middle Tennessee. The one many remember is the 2008 tornado outbreak. That was also a nighttime tornado event (but AFTER the voting) that caused significant damage across Middle Tennessee. In the 2008 Super Tuesday tornado event, downtown Nashville was spared."

Image credit: NWS Nashville

Initial surveys indicate EF-3 tornado damage in East Nashville/Five Points (Davidson) and EF-2 in North Nashville/Germantown (Davidson), NWS said.

As of Tuesday evening (local time), March 3, 18 people were reported dead in Putnam County, 3 in Wilson County, 2 in Davidson County and 1 in Benton County, the Tennessee Emergency Management Authority said. Putnam County officials said they are searching 77 unaccounted people.

"The tornado damage in Nashville is heartbreaking. Residents are being evacuated right now," said NC5 reporter Chris Conte. "Sadly, the tornado damage in Nashville is only going to become profound as the sun comes up."

The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed the tornado northwest of Downtown Nashville around 06:39 UTC (00:39 LT), adding that the twister was on the ground for roughly 45 minutes, moving east about 72 km/h (45 mph) before moving through several counties in Tennessee.

"This is an extremely dangerous tornado," NWS wrote. Nashville's Germantown neighborhood reportedly suffered some of the worst damage, where a gas leak forced an evacuation of the IMT building.

The Nashville Fire Department (NFD) said officers and personnel are on the scene, responding to reports of about 40 structure collapses. Moreover, the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) said there was major destruction in the Central downtown and East Precincts.

"There are multiple homes damaged and multiple injuries. We have requested mutual aid from allied agencies. We continue to search for injured," said Mt. Juliet Police in a tweet.

Jefferson Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard were closed as roads were covered with debris and fallen posts. Homes and buildings were in shambles, with roofs ripped off, walls torn in pieces, and scraps scattered on streets.

A tornado watch remains in effect for 26 counties until 12:00 UTC (6:00 LT) on Tuesday.

Featured image credit: @thisisdsb/Twitter

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