NASHVILLE (AP) — Strong storms packing high winds blew through Tennessee early Wednesday, causing power outages and widespread damage. At least one person was killed by a falling tree, authorities said.
The National Weather Service was sending assessment teams to determine whether there had been tornado touchdowns in western and central locations.
The death occurred in Nashville when wind uprooted a large tree and blew it onto a storage shed where a man had taken shelter in the Bordeaux area, north of downtown. Police did not immediately release the man's name.
There were also reports of injuries, most of them minor, over a broad area.
East of Nashville, the top floor of a three-story building was damaged in Mount Juliet as a man and his son, who live there, dived under a mattress to escape injury. Nearby, a driver sleeping in his tractor-trailer truck likewise wasn't seriously hurt when the rig was blown onto its side.
Thousands of customers lost electrical power as strong winds blew down trees and limbs onto power lines.
Warm, moist air was being overrun by a cold front, setting off the storms, which did not produce a lot of lightning.
Reports to the National Weather Service late Tuesday showed the breadth of damage in West Tennessee. Buildings were reported collapsed or damaged in Bolivar, a person was reported trapped under a mobile home in Bethel Springs and emergency responders were reporting roads blocked by debris as they tried to reach people who needed help. The weather service office in Memphis reported wind gusts to 70 mph.
In Middle Tennessee, 16 houses were reported damaged or destroyed in Centerville, and a building collapse was reported in Lawrenceburg.
Meteorologist Marlene Mickelson of the National Weather Service office in Memphis said tornado assessment teams would examine damage Wednesday in McNairy and Hardeman counties. Forecasters in Nashville were examining data before dispatching assessment teams in the central part of the state.
By 8 a.m. today, the leading edge of the storms, still showing considerable strength, were moving onto Knoxville with rain extending back over the Cumberland Plateau and Middle Tennessee. However, weather service radar showed the last of the rain moving across the Tennessee River, out of West Tennessee.
After temperatures that lingered around 70 early Wednesday, the strong cold front was driving down readings, expected to fall below freezing by dawn Thursday.