NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A line of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes marched across the South on Friday, peeling away roofs, overturning cars and killing at least 11 people in Tennessee, officials said.
It was the second wave of violent weather to hit the state in less than a week. Last weekend, thunderstorms and tornadoes killed 24 people in the western part of the state and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and buildings.
The storms raked an area from northern Mississippi to northern Virginia as they moved to the northeast late Friday after developing from a low-pressure system in the central Plains.
The Nashville suburbs were the hardest hit, with at least eight deaths happening northeast of the city. Three more people were killed in a rural area about 65 miles southeast of Nashville.
Fire Chief Joe Womack said three bodies were pulled from the wreckage of homes in a subdivision of Gallatin, about 24 miles northeast of the city.
Steven Davis, who lives about a block from the subdivision, said he ran to a neighbor’s home to take shelter in a crawl space when he heard the storm approaching.
“When the tornado came through, the roof was off just like that,” Davis said, snapping his fingers. Houses on each side of his street were destroyed.
“Our neighborhood is leveled,” Davis said.
Tornadoes were also reported in the Nashville suburbs of Goodlettsville, Hendersonville and Ashland City, and in Holladay, about 90 miles west of Nashville. The storms flattened trees, knocked down power lines and damaged homes and other buildings.
The number of tornadoes in the United States has jumped dramatically through the first part of 2006 compared with the past few years, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.
Through the end of March, an estimated 286 tornadoes had hit the United States, compared with an average of 70 for the same three-month period in each of the past three years.