Severe storms that produced radar-indicated tornadoes impacted multiple counties overnight in West and Middle Tennessee, with three confirmed weather-related fatalities, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).
None of the fatalities were in Shelby County, where MLGW was reporting 22,000 customers without power at midday Saturday.
Those without outages were directed to report them to 544-6500, with MLGW posting via social media that “Crews are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.”
The horrific overnight was part of a historic-sized storm that left a wide swath of devastation. A monstrous tornado killed dozens of people in Kentucky and the toll was climbing Saturday. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said upwards of 70 may have died when a twister touched down for more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) in his state but the number of deaths could exceed 100 across 10 or more counties.
“This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history,” Beshear said at a news conference.
Three storm-related deaths were confirmed in northwestern Tennessee, said Dean Flener, a TEMA spokesman.
In Arkansas, a tornado struck a nursing home in Monette, killing one and trapping 20 people inside as the building collapsed, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day told The Associated Press. Five people had serious injuries, he said.
Another person died when the storm hit a Dollar General store in nearby Leachville, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.
“Probably the most remarkable thing is that there’s not a greater loss of life,” Hutchinson said after touring the wreckage of the nursing home. “It is catastrophic. It’s a total destruction.”
In Tennessee, numerous trees and power lines are down, with localized damages reported in multiple counties. The State Emergency Operations Center is activated and State of Tennessee personnel are supporting response efforts and resource requests in the impacted areas.
West and Middle Tennessee experienced two lines of severe weather Friday night into Saturday morning as a mass of warm, unstable air moved across the state.
The first line of storms on Friday evening entered West Tennessee and then lifted northward at the Tennessee River and moved into Kentucky. The second line of storms entered West Tennessee before midnight Friday, gaining strength as they moved into Middle Tennessee and primarily impacted counties along and north of I-40.
The Tennessee Dept. of Health reported that the weather-related fatalities from the first storm wave in West Tennessee included two fatalities in Lake County and one fatality in Obion County.
Downed trees and power lines were reported in Decatur, Gibson, Henderson and Madison counties. Gibson County opened a storm shelter for 60 people overnight, down to 16 people by Saturday morning. Weakley County reported damage in the Dresden area and was investigating the source of a water outage. Shelby County was reporting damage in the Arlington area.
Power outages as of 4 a.m. totaled 132,550 statewide: Davidson County, 80,000; Shelby County, 27,000; Wilson County 5,000; Montgomery County, 4,400; Madison County, 1,800; Williamson County, 1,400; Chester County 1,100; Obion County, 1,100; Lake County, 400, and Dyer County 250.