(Tornado damage in Putnam County, Tenn., March 3, 2020. Image credit: Rob Hart.)
A line of severe thunderstorms that stretched across the U.S. Southeast produced deadly tornadoes in Nashville, Tennessee around 2:00 AM local time on March 3, 2020. Another tornado was reported in Western Tennessee. At least 24 fatalities have been confirmed, and about 150 people were hospitalized. CoreLogic (Irvine, Calif.) estimates that 22,389 structures had a 30 percent or greater damage probability from the 50 mile-long Tennessee tornadic event.
The tornadoes struck a few hours before the voting was scheduled to open for the Tennessee Super Tuesday primary, the Washington Post reported. A delay of one hour was announced for the opening of polls in two counties, Davidson and Wilson; they were set to close on time, and provisions were made for voters affected by the tornadoes.
Nashville schools were closed for the week, while Wilson County schools closed for the rest of the week, with West Wilson Middle School partially collapsed, according to a CNN report. The Donelson Christian Academy K-12 school was destroyed. About 73,000 people across the state were left without power, according to ABC News. Interstate 40 was closed in both directions between Mount Juliet and Lebanon, according to regional radio station WSMV.
Total Damage to Exceed $1 Billion
The CoreLogic Weather Verification analytic service provides near real-time weather monitoring for all of the aspects of severe thunderstorms (tornadoes, hailstorms and high winds), enabling insurers and contractors to more rapidly and proactively assist those affected. The Tornado Path Map currently estimates that approximately 250 square miles were affected by the damaging effects of the tornadoes. The current estimate of damaged residential and commercial properties from the 50 mile-long Tennessee tornadic event, extending well beyond the Nashville metro area, is as shown in the table below. CoreLogic expects the total damage to property from this event to exceed $1 billion.
Tornadoes can occur throughout the year, but March represents the beginning of the higher frequency severe convective storm season. The intensity of tornadoes is represented by the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, a measurement that considers the damage caused. The Tennessee tornadoes are preliminarily estimated at an intensity of EF3 to EF4, or Severe to Devastating damage. Nashville, Tennessee, was the community most impacted by this event. The 2018 Census tabulates 319,529 housing units in Davidson County, the location of Nashville.