A severe weather system that rampaged through the South on Saturday spawned powerful tornadoes in Tennessee, leaving six people dead and more than 20 injured, buildings in tatters and trees and power lines toppled, officials said.
By early Sunday, the hardest hit places appeared to be the northern part of Nashville and Clarksville, in northern Tennessee, where officials reported severe and extensive damage. Emergency crews continued searching for survivors and assessing the extent of the devastation left by the storm, as officials suggested the death toll might rise. More than 52,000 customers were without power in Tennessee.
Officials in Montgomery County, which includes Clarksville, said that two adults and one child had died as a result of a tornado in the afternoon, and that 23 people were injured and had been taken to hospitals.
“We are still in the search-and-rescue phase of this disaster and will provide updates as we receive confirmation,” the county said on Facebook. Mayor Joe Pitts of Clarksville declared a state of emergency and enacted a 9 p.m. curfew for Saturday and Sunday night.
In Davidson County, which encompasses Nashville, officials said three people had died as “a result of the severe weather.” Freddie O’Connell, the mayor of Nashville, declared a state of emergency for the city and Davidson County, allowing the area to obtain state and federal resources.
Earlier, three weather-related injuries, including one head injury, were reported in Dresden, Tenn., said Ray Wiggington, the emergency management director for Weakley County. At least one mobile home was flipped over, he said.
All of the injuries occurred on Summers Road in Dresden, he said, adding that it was unclear whether the damage had been caused by “an actual tornado or just straight-line winds.”
He said that a powerful EF3 tornado, which has winds of 136 to 165 miles per hour, “hit almost in the exact same area” in December 2021. “That’s on everybody’s mind,” he said.
“We know there is extensive damage throughout the community,” Joe Pitts, the Clarksville mayor, said in an earlier message on social media. He implored residents to stay home and avoid the roads, adding that there were power lines down.
An emergency shelter at a local high school was available for displaced residents, officials said.
Ronnie Glynn, a Tennessee state representative, said he witnessed the storm’s devastation in Clarksville.
“I barely made it home with my family,” he said on social media. “Please pray for Clarksville. Lots of destruction.”
Video on social media showed crumpled and overturned vehicles in Kentucky. Several buildings appeared to be battered and partially collapsed. A pizzeria in Clarksville, Tenn., near the border with Kentucky, appeared to be razed.
In another post on social media, a storm appeared to have knocked over hefty trees and shredded the roofs of homes in White Bluff, Tenn., roughly 35 miles south of Clarksville.
There were also reports of severe damage in Hendersonville, Tenn., a city just northeast of Nashville.
Tornado watches and warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings were posted in parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee on Saturday.
While it might seem odd to think of tornadoes in December, this cluster of southern states is, on average, the area of the country that sees the most tornadoes during this month.
The Northeast faces severe storms on Sunday.
Though it is December, the first month of meteorological winter, temperatures across the Eastern United States this weekend were more in line with early autumn.
That warmth is accompanied by a surge of moisture that will deliver “significant precipitation” from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast through Sunday, according to the Weather Prediction Center.
The National Weather Service in New York issued a flood watch for parts of southern Connecticut, northeast New Jersey, and southeast New York, including Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The flood watch is in effect from Sunday afternoon through late Sunday night. Officials in New York on Saturday forecast heavy rains and strong to damaging winds late Sunday and into Monday.
More than 40 daily rainfall records from the Mid-Atlantic to New England will be challenged on Sunday.
The warmth that built up will be progressively pushed out by a colder air mass through the weekend.
Winter weather returns for some on Sunday night.
As colder air pushes through Sunday and into Monday, the rain will transition to a wintry mix and snow, most likely affecting higher elevations of the Appalachians and the interior Northeast.
It is a reminder that, despite the warm weekend, we are indeed headed deeper into winter.
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