Six people were killed and nearly two dozen injured after tornadoes touched down around Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday, according to local authorities.
The severe thunderstorms that spawned the tornadoes erupted ahead of an intense cold front that stretched from Michigan through western Tennessee and into eastern Texas. Ahead of the front, abnormally warm and humid air – as much as 20 degrees higher than average for this time of year – surged northward, helping to fuel the storms.
More than 75,000 customers were without power in Tennessee as of Saturday night. The hardest-hit areas appeared to be Clarksville, Tennessee, and the north side of Nashville. A child and two adults were killed in Clarksville, the city’s mayor said, and the Nashville Emergency Operation Center reported three people were killed by severe storms there.
Rescue efforts were still underway in both areas Saturday night.
“This is devastating news and our hearts are broken for the families of those who lost loved ones,” said Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts. “The city stands ready to help them in their time of grief.”
Through 8:30 p.m., the National Weather Service had received about 75 reports of severe weather from northern Louisiana to southern Kentucky. But most of the severe weather was concentrated in western and central Tennessee, including 15 reports of tornadoes.
The same front is forecast to barge toward the East Coast on Sunday. Some severe storms could erupt in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic but they are not predicted to be as widespread or violent as Saturday’s storms in the Tennessee Valley.
In the Northeast, the front is expected to trigger torrential rains Sunday night into Monday morning. Flood watches are in effect from northern Virginia to eastern Maine, including Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, where 1 to 3 inches of rain are predicted.
As of 9 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, weather radar showed strong to severe storms lined up just ahead of the cold front from north-central Tennessee through northwest Alabama and into central Louisiana. Tornado watches were in effect for this area and locations just to their east into the pre-dawn hours Sunday.