A massive tornado hit the ground in downtown Nashville, Tennesee, early Tuesday morning around 12:38 a.m. CST. The National Weather Service of Nashville tweeted, “Tornado still confirmed on the ground near Hermitage. THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO! TAKE COVER NOW IN WILSON COUNTY!” Tornadoes also hit across Tennessee, causing damage and deaths in four counties.
The devastating tornado killed at least 25 people in Tennessee, officials told The Tennessean. “There’s a really good possibility that there may be more,” Governor Bill Lee said at a press conference. “It’s early yet. A number of people are missing … and many are injured.” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said the tornado “devastated” the community and showed how “fragile life is.”
The tornado deaths spread across four counties, The Tennessean reports. Fourteen people were killed in Putnam County, two in Wilson County, two in Davidson County and one in Benton County, according to Tennessee Emergency Management Community Relations Officer Maggie Hannan. At least two people were killed in east Nashville, authorities said. WKRN further reported “16 [deaths] in Putnam County, 2 in Wilson County (3rd died from medical issue), and 1 in Benton County.”
After a heavy rainstorm hit Nashville, nearly 16,000 Nashville Electric Service customers were without power by 1 a.m., according to The National Weather Service. Video captured the enormous tornado in East Nashville Rosebank, which was moving east at 45 miles per hour. There have multiple injuries reported in Mount Juliet and at least two people reportedly died in East Nashville. Devastating photos reveal parts of downtown Nashville and Germantown were damaged in the wake of the tornado.
Based on the video captured, the tornado, which first touched down in Hermitage, about 10 miles east of Nashville, stayed grounded for nearly an hour, traveling right through sections of downtown Nashville.
Lee added, “The reports are just coming in. These tornadoes struck down in number of places around the state…knowing who is missing and who is not is hard at this point. It is heartbreaking.” Lee said he had reached out to the White House for assistance. President Donald Trump tweeted, “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.”
News Channel Five reporter Chris Conte shared a video of the moment the tornado hit the local news station. “It’s hitting Channel 5 as we speak,” the reporter says with a deep sense of urgency. “Right now. A very large tornado is on the ground… and moving throughout the parking lot.”
In the video below, you can hear the tornado warning sirens going off in Nashville, which roused much of the downtown metro area’s residents awake. With the warning sirens and firetruck sirens going off simultaneously, it must’ve been an incredibly scary situation to wake up to in the middle of the night.
Locals also shared videos on Twitter of the damage, which appeared to be heartbreakingly excessive in both downtown Nashville and Germantown. The Basement, a popular music venue in East Nashville took a direct hit, but thankfully, no casualties or major injuries were reported.
Numerous locals reported that they were taking shelter in their basement until the tornado passed through. As of 1:56 a.m. local time, Lieutenant John Wheeler of the Metro Nashville Police Department said, “At this time we have multiple power lines in both directions on Centennial Boulevard, which is causing the roads to be blocked,” as reported by The Tennessean.
Even at such a late hour, there’s already excessive backup reported on Interstate 40. The next morning, drone footage showed the complete devastation in daylight.
Landmarks such as John C. Tune Airport and the Hopewell Baptist Church were crushed by the tornado.
Several People Were Injured Along With Those Who Were Killed, With Some Victims Being Struck by Flying Debris
Because of the late hour that the storm hit, injury reports did not surface until an hour after the storm passed. Accuweather tweeted that “widespread damage and several injuries have been reported after a confirmed #tornado tore through areas just northwest of Nashville, Tennessee, around 12:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday. Severe thunderstorms are still impacting parts of the region.”
News Channel 5 reported that two people were killed in East Nashville, according to Metro Police.
Some of the victims were struck by flying debris.
For those impacted by the tornado, the Metro Nashville Police Department tweeted that “an emergency shelter has been established at the Farmers Market, 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.” and that “emergency responders are working to ensure persons can get out and secure the areas.
Metro Schools will be closed on Tuesday, March 3 due to widespread damage. Metro Schools said election polling sites will be open unless otherwise noted.
Photos Reveal Massive Damage To The Downtown Nashville Area
Photos shared on Twitter showed that the twister obliterated or left serious damage to local buildings businesses, schools, restaurants, and homes. The Auto Zone on Rosa L. Parks Boulevard was completely destroyed, as reported by country singer Brett Kissel.
Meteorologist Craig Ceecee tweeted, “Debris from the #Nashville #tornado was likely lofted at least 15,000 feet. That’s a clear sign of a significant tornado.” In the following tweet, Ceecee raised the height of the tornado to 20,000 feet.
As the late evening turned into the early morning, the damage of Tuesday’s storm continued to be shared online. A local resident tweeted, “The #tornado took a chunk out of a building at Rosa Parks and Jefferson in downtown #Nashville.”
The Tornado Moved East Out Of Nashville Toward Mount Juliet
By 2 a.m., the tornado has moved out of Nashville and moved east of town into Mount Juliet and Lebanon. Meteorologist Joe Fitzwater from 13 News tweeted out the following warning, “EXTREMELY dangerous supercell with a likely #tornado just passed through Nashville and continues east toward Mount Juliet. New tornado #warning issues for towns east. Debris ball STILL showing up on level 2 radar #tnwx”
A Tornado Watch remains in effect for Middle Tennessee until 3 a.m. CST. The National Weather Serice Memphis also reported that a severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee until 5 a.m. CST. It’s been recommended for locals not to go outside and check the surrounding damage. It’s safest to stay inside until the storm has fully passed.
Meteorologist Beth Carpenter tweeted, “Long-track highly tornadic supercell went right through #Nashville early this morning, and continues eastward. The rotation track is shown below between 12:30-1:30am Tuesday. Seeing lots of damage reports. Hopefully, no injuries or worse.”
At 2:43 a.m., Carpenter reported that a newly confirmed tornado touched ground near Cookeville and Mayland in Tennessee.
At 3 a.m. CST, the tornado watch for Nashville was extended to 6 a.m. CST.