Death toll rises after massive tornado tears through Nashville

Death toll rises after massive tornado tears through NashvilleSevere weather erupted in Tennessee early Tuesday morning, spawning hail, damaging winds and a very dangerous tornado in Nashville along with other twisters throughout the state. The outbreak caused widespread damage, many injuries and at least 19 fatalities.Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Spokeswoman Maggie Hannan confirmed the jump in the death toll after rescue crews worked for hours to pull survivors and bodies from damaged structures. According to Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson, two of the victims were killed by flying debris on McFerrin Street, located in East Nashville."Nashville is hurting, and our community has been devastated," Nashville Mayor John Cooper said on Twitter. "My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. Be sure to lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need, and let's come together as a community once more. Together, we will get through this and come out stronger."Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee called the devastation 'heartbreaking' and lamented the loss of life 'all across the state.'According to the Associated Press, at least 40 buildings were destroyed and many others were damaged. Just hours before voting for Super Tuesday was set to begin in the state, four polling stations were moved because of the damage as well as closures to schools and courts.One of the damaged venues in East Nashville was the Basement East nightclub. According to the Tennessean, a benefit concert being held at the venue for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had only ended several hours prior to the twister.Staff with the venue confirmed on Facebook that the building was destroyed but all employees were safe.The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a tornado warning for Nashville and adjacent areas around 12:15 a.m. CDT Tuesday. Despite the tornado tearing through the city at night, the lights from the city were able to light up the sky enough such that footage of the tornado was captured quite clearly. From footage that was gathered, the tornado appeared to be quite large, although storm surveys will be conducted on Tuesday to determine the official intensity of the storm.Multiple homes and buildings were destroyed, and police in Mount Juliet reported that multiple injuries were being blamed on the tornado, according to NBC News.The Nashville Fire Department reported that they were responding to 40 structure collapses around the city and advised people to avoid debris. The fire department also said its Urban Search and Rescue team was out searching collapsed structures for anyone trapped or injured.> Sadly, the tornado damage in Nashville is only going to become profound as the sun comes up.> > -- Chris Conte (@chrisconte) March 3, 2020Around 3:30 a.m., the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) reported that the tornado claimed the lives of two individuals from East Nashville.The MNPD also reported that several emergency shelters had been opened for victims of the storm and that Nashville's Emergency Operations Center had been opened. Metro Schools closed their district's schools for Tuesday because of the damage left in the Nashville area from the tornado.Several locations reported having downed power lines and trees that were blocking the roadways. Nashville Electric confirmed that their crews were out early on Tuesday morning assessing damage. As of 7 a.m., local time, more than 47,000 customers were without power.At the Nashville Farmers Market, where Cooper and other state officials were gathering for an emergency shelter center, power went out around 5:20 a.m.. The Tennessee Highway Patrol also shared that electrical lines are down across Interstate 40, shutting down the roadway.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APPAccording to a tweet from Nashville International Airport, initial reports were that several hangars at the West Nashville airport, John C. Tune Airport, had sustained significant damage. Nashville International Airport itself remains fully operational, with flights going on as scheduled.A gas leak in the Germantown community of Nashville forced an evacuation just after the tornado hit the area, according to Fox8 News.> Just filmed a tornado pass north of my building and just north of the state capital! Wow!> > -- Sam Shamburger (@shamnadoes) March 3, 2020Damage to polling stations will be evaluated on Tuesday morning, and any damage to these stations could impede or significantly alter voting in and around the city for the Democratic primary in Tennessee on Super Tuesday. In addition, showers and thunderstorms will continue to impact much of central and eastern Tennessee on Tuesday morning.Farther south, tornado watches were in effect across central Alabama. This area included Selma, Montgomery and Union Springs, Alabama. The watch was in effect until 11 a.m. local time. A much smaller area was under a tornado warning in the state. Locations facing the tornado warning included the towns of Maplesville,  Lawley and Randolph.The full extent of the damage, as well as the number of potential injuries and fatalities, will likely not be recognized until after sunrise on Tuesday.Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.