March 2 2012 Tornadoes & Severe Weather


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 Overview

A strong upper level trough of low pressure moving across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys spawned the largest tornado outbreak across the region during the spring of 2012.  Dozens of people were killed or injured in many states stretching from Indiana and Ohio in the north, to Alabama and Georgia in the south.  Across Middle Tennessee, numerous supercell thunderstorms that developed during the morning, and then again in the afternoon and evening hours, produced numerous reports of large hail up to baseball size, damaging straight line winds, and 3 confirmed tornadoes.  These severe weather occurred only 2 days after another round of severe weather and tornadoes killed 3 people and injured several others across Middle Tennessee on February 29th.

Storm Surveys

NWS Storm Surveys were conducted in the following days to determine the number of tornadoes that occurred, as well as their strengths and paths. One supercell thunderstorm that began in far western Tennessee and tracked eastward through much of the state produced a long track of damaging hail up to baseball size, winds up to 80 mph, and all 3 tornadoes reported in Middle Tennessee on March 2nd.  The first tornado was an EF1 tornado with maximum wind speeds around 90 mph touched down along Mt. Pleasant Road just south of Kingston Springs. The nearly 1 mile damage path of the tornado contained dozens of snapped or uprooted trees, a destroyed barn, and several homes with minor roof damage. The maximum path width was nearly 100 yards. Widespread downburst and hail damage occurred north of the tornado track across the remainder of Kingston Springs, where many buildings suffered considerable roof, window and siding damage from the golf ball and larger sized hail.

Next, the National Weather Service in Nashville confirmed an EF2 tornado began in the Dodson Branch community in southeastern Jackson County, where around two dozen homes were heavily damaged and 20 minor injuries occurred.  The tornado then tracked across far northern Putnam County before ending about 4 miles north of the city of Rickman along highway 111 in southwestern Overton County. An additional 17 homes were damaged or destroyed in rural Overton County in the Hardys Chapel community. Hundreds of trees were snapped or uprooted along the path of the tornado.

Finally, aerial satellite imagery from Google Earth indicated an EF0 tornado touched down across inaccessible hilly forested areas across western Fentress County near Jamestown. Dozens of trees were blown down along the nearly 7 mile path, but no buildings were reportedly damaged.

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