A powerful storm system produced at least two tornadoes that struck central Tennessee early on Tuesday morning, including one that caused significant damage near downtown Nashville and killed at least 19 people as crews spent hours pulling survivors and bodies from wrecked buildings.
“They need your prayers in Nashville, Tennessee,” Fox News Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean said on “Fox & Friends.” “This was an overnight, rain-wrapped tornado while people were sleeping and now they are waking up to extreme destruction, devastation and deaths in the Nashville area.”
“We have had loss of life all across the state,” Lee said, adding “It’s a very difficult situation.”
The Metro Nashville Police Department said at least two people were killed in East Nashville, while a TEMA official told Fox News that 14 people died in Putnam County. There were two reported deaths in Wilson County, two in Davidson County which includes that area of East Nashville, and one in Benton County, according to TEMA.
Metro Nashville police officers and fire crews were responding to about 48 building collapses around the city as neighborhoods were littered with blown-down walls and roofs, snapped power lines and huge broken trees. Search and rescue crews were fanning through neighborhoods searching for any injured people inside collapsed structures.
“Last night was a reminder about how fragile life is,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper said at a Tuesday morning news conference.
President Trump tweeted that he was monitoring developments out of Tennessee and that the federal government is “is with you all of the way during this difficult time.”
“Prayers for all of those affected by the devastating tornadoes in Tennessee,” the president said.
Residents captured shocking mages of lightning strikes that turned the sky purple and pink as the tornado that struck Nashville started barreling through the city around 1 a.m.
According to Dean, forecasters believe the tornado that struck Nashville was an EF-3 that went through a “heavily-populated area.” Tornadoes estimated to be an EF-3 are considered to be strong, with winds between 136 and 165 mph, and they create “severe” damage,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center
A video posted online from Sam Shamburger, the lead forecaster at the National Weather Service Nashville, showed what appeared to be a well-defined tornado moving quickly across east Nashville. Lightning repeatedly flashed while much of the city was in the dark.
The whir of the wind could be heard after the tornado moved out of sight.
“It sounded like someone was just throwing bricks at the windows,” a man named Mark told FOX17 in one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
Some schools already closed for Super Tuesday voting will be kept closed for another week or more to handle repairs due to damage from the storm, according to FOX17.
Metro Nashville Public Schools said its schools would be closed Tuesday because of the tornado damage. Wilson County, just east of metro Nashville will close schools for the rest of the week. Election polling sites at schools were expected to remain open, as well as district offices, according to tweets from its official account.
Jeff Roberts of the Elections Commission said in a statement early Tuesday that information about damage to polling stations is being collected as polls open for Super Tuesday. Any voter in Davidson County whose assigned precinct has been impacted may vote at the Election Commission Offices, the statement said. Polls open at various times, starting at 7 a.m. CST, depending on the county.
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Source: Fox News