Updated at Monday 7:30 a.m.
Authorities say at least half a dozen tornadoes touched down during the weekend’s intense storms and that damage assessments are ongoing in 20 counties.
Surveyors from the National Weather Service fanned out yesterday and have so far confirmed seven tornadoes that ripped across about 70 miles of Middle Tennessee.
The two strongest were each rated at EF-2 in Dickson and Cheatham counties, with winds of 125 to 135 mph. Additional tornadoes touched down in Perry, Hickman, Davidson and Wilson counties. More surveying was ongoing in Sumner, Smith and Stewart counties.
Two storm-related deaths were reported by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in Lake County in the northwestern corner of Tennessee, along with an additional death in Obion County and Shelby County.
In the Nashville area, radar indicated the possibility of several tornadoes moving through the region earlier in the morning and very high straight-line winds.
Impacts known include:
- Nashville rescuers responding to a collapsed roof at the Ashton Apartments in South Nashville and damage to the Cherry Creek Apartments in Hermitage
- Significant structure damage reported to homes and businesses in Kingston Springs
- At least 12 structures heavily damaged in Dickson, with reports of some people trapped inside, and the Dickson County Family YMCA opening as an emergency shelter
- Damaged cars in Cheatham County and downed trees blocking multiple streets in Hendersonville
- Dozens of homes damaged in Mt. Juliet, where no injuries have been reported
- Downed trees and power lines widely reported, as far south as Lawrence County and in Kingston Springs, Brentwood, La Vergne and Hendersonville, and northeast to Red Boiling Springs
- Structures damaged in the Big Rock community in Stewart County
Our personnel are out helping with clean up. There aren’t any reports of serious injuries at this time. This is in the 400 Block of Hogan Road. pic.twitter.com/nUn5zwST72
— Nashville EOC/OEM (@NashvilleEOC) December 11, 2021
Dozens of homes in Metro Councilmember Sandra Sepulveda’s district in southeast Nashville were without power Saturday morning, including her own home.
“I don’t have power either. But I have a charger and I have a car that still has gas, so I’ll be charging my phone until then,” she said.
Sepulveda says Ashton Apartments appeared to be among the hardest hit in her neighborhood, adding that, over the summer, the building also experienced some flood damage. As of Saturday morning, Sepulveda says it appeared many tenants evacuated and alarm bells were going off inside the apartment building.
Potentially Tennessee’s largest December tornado outbreak
Though official confirmation of tornadoes has yet to come from the National Weather Service in Nashville, lead forecaster Sam Shamburger took to Twitter after the long night of work to say this rash of storms was likely unprecedented.
After 13+ hours, finally heading home after the biggest December #tornado outbreak in Tennessee’s history – just unreal
— Sam Shamburger (@shamnadoes) December 11, 2021
Another forecaster, Brittney Whitehead, says NWS teams are focusing on areas along I-40, west of Nashville, and that it will take a couple days to get to all the places they believe sustained damage from tornadoes. The forecast should be dry for the next few days, though, which she says will help with the clean-up.
At Nashville International Airport, NWS says, wind gusts were measured at 78 miles per hour, one of the highest ever.
BNA just gusted to 68 knots/78 mph – one of the highest measured wind gusts ever at the airport.
— NWS Nashville (@NWSNashville) December 11, 2021
Just getting to the airport itself was affected by the weather for a few hours Saturday morning, when the primary entrance to BNA on I-40 was partially closed by downed trees, and people were urged to use the Donelson Pike entrance.
— Nashville Electric Service (@NESpower) December 11, 2021
Mt. Juliet homes damaged
In a livestream early Saturday morning, Mt. Juliet Police shared an update that no rescues were necessary and no significant injuries were reported. One road closure occurred due to the weather, and the department says there are around a dozen homes with significant structural damage and 60 to 80 more with cosmetic damage.
Join MJPD in a live incident update on the severe weather event impacts across the community- https://t.co/OwEg72R3XP
— Mt. Juliet Police (@MtJulietPolice) December 11, 2021
Police Capt. Tyler Chandler said he does not believe anyone will be displaced because of home damage. Residents can sign up for Mt. Juliet alerts by texting “MJ” to 67283.
Mt. Juliet’s Christmas parade that was scheduled for Saturday was cancelled, citing the impact of the severe weather in the area. Similarly, Franklin has announced the cancellation of its Christmas festival for the day “in the interest of public safety.” Dickens of a Christmas is planned to return Sunday and be extended by two hours, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Downtown Franklin shops and restaurants will be open at the discretion of owners, and the Franklin Theatre will remain open to the public on Saturday for indoor enjoyment.
Damage assessments underway
Strong storms and several likely tornadoes overnight were also reported in Arkansas, Missouri, southern Illinois and Kentucky. Though Middle Tennessee was hit by the second line of increasingly strong storms, the first line coming through West Tennessee late Friday evening headed north toward the Tennessee River and across the state’s northern border.
Parts of Bowling Green absolutely ravaged. Please everyone stay safe today. 💔 pic.twitter.com/8GEpL4xthm
— wxornotBG (@wxornotBG) December 11, 2021
Gov. Andy Beshear has declared a state of emergency and called the storm “the most significant tornado event in Kentucky’s history.” Early reports suggest there could be at least 50 deaths in that state.
Western Kentucky University announced early Saturday morning that it would not be holding commencement ceremonies later in the day, as the school remains without power. WKU says there is significant tornado damage in the area, and university President Timothy Caboni announced the death of a student at an off-campus residence, who was supposed to graduate Saturday.
— Western Kentucky University (@wku) December 11, 2021
TEMA has put together a list of resources for people affected in Tennessee, including a Crisis Cleanup service for Tennesseans who need help with debris removal and home cleanup from the recent severe weather.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee is encouraging donations to their emergency response fund.
Louisville’s public radio station, WFPL, has compiled a list of ways to provide and seek help in Kentucky and northern Tennessee.