Source: , AccuWeather meteorologist
Severe weather erupted in Tennessee early Tuesday morning, spawning hail, damaging winds and a very dangerous tornado in Nashville along with other twisters throughout the state. The outbreak caused widespread damage, many injuries and at least 22 fatalities.
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Spokeswoman Maggie Hannan confirmed the jump in the death toll after rescue crews worked for hours to pull survivors and bodies from damaged structures. According to Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson, two of the victims were killed by flying debris on McFerrin Street, located in East Nashville.
According to the preliminary damage survey results from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Nashville, both Wilson County and Davidson County saw at least EF 3 likely winds and damage.
“Nashville is hurting, and our community has been devastated,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said on Twitter. “My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. Be sure to lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need, and let’s come together as a community once more. Together, we will get through this and come out stronger.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee called the devastation ‘heartbreaking’ and lamented the loss of life ‘all across the state.’
The time of the tornado touching down in Nashville can be seen on radar, indicated by the hook shape northeast of the city. Of the most devastated areas of Nashville, on Main Street, was previously struck by tornadoes in 1933 and 1998.
According to the Associated Press, at least 40 buildings were destroyed and many others were damaged. Just hours before voting for Super Tuesday was set to begin in the state, four polling stations were moved because of the damage as well as closures to schools and courts.
In Nashville and Wilson County, Super Tuesday voting started one hour late due to the extensive damage, according to The Tennesseean. Officials in several areas told voters that they would need to vote elsewhere because some of the original polling locations were damaged or without power.
One of the damaged venues in East Nashville was the Basement East nightclub. According to the Tennessean, a benefit concert being held at the venue for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had only ended several hours prior to the twister.
Staff with the venue confirmed on Facebook that the building was destroyed but all employees were safe.
The NWS issued a tornado warning for Nashville and adjacent areas around 12:15 a.m. CDT Tuesday.
Despite the tornado tearing through the city at night, the lights from the city were able to light up the sky enough such that footage of the tornado was captured quite clearly. From footage that was gathered, the tornado appeared to be quite large, although storm surveys will be conducted on Tuesday to determine the official intensity of the storm.
Multiple homes and buildings were destroyed, and police in Mount Juliet reported that multiple injuries were being blamed on the tornado, according to NBC News.
The Nashville Fire Department reported that they were responding to 40 structure collapses around the city and advised people to avoid debris. The fire department also said its Urban Search and Rescue team was out searching collapsed structures for anyone trapped or injured.
Around 3:30 a.m., the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) reported that the tornado claimed the lives of two individuals from East Nashville.
The MNPD also reported that several emergency shelters had been opened for victims of the storm and that Nashville’s Emergency Operations Center had been opened. Metro Schools closed their district’s schools for Tuesday because of the damage left in the Nashville area from the tornado.