April 6–8, 2006 tornado outbreak
|Gallatin, Tennessee that killed nine people.|
|Date of tornado outbreak:||April 6–8, 2006|
|Duration1:||2 days, 2 hours, 6 minutes|
|Maximum rated tornado2:||F3 tornado|
|Tornadoes caused:||74 confirmed|
|Areas affected:||Central United States – Eastern U.S. region|
1Time from first tornado to last tornado
The April 6–8, 2006, tornado outbreak was a major tornado outbreak in the central and parts of the southern United States that began on April 6, 2006, in the Great Plains and continued until April 8 in South Carolina, with most of the activity on April 7. The hardest-hit area was Middle Tennessee where several strong tornadoes devastated entire neighborhoods and left nine people dead. The worst damage took place in Gallatin, Tennessee. Other communities north of Nashville were also hard hit.
There were 74 tornadoes confirmed across 13 states, with the bulk of them coming on the afternoon and evening of April 7 across the South, particularly in Tennessee. In total, 13 deaths were reported as a result of the severe weather (12 of them in Tennessee) and over $650 million in damage was reported, of which over $630 million was in Middle Tennessee. It was the third major outbreak of 2006, hot on the heels of a major outbreak on April 2. It was also considered to be the worst disaster event in Middle Tennessee since the Nashville Tornadoes of 1998 on April 16, 1998.
The outbreak took place as a result of a powerful low pressure system over the Midwest that produced a powerful cold front that tracked eastward across the South, which combined with warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico to allow severe thunderstorms to form, particularly on April 7.
The Storm Prediction Center issued a high risk for severe weather for both April 6 and 7 in the areas likely to be affected. Conditions were favorable for an extremely strong tornado outbreak on both days.
Activity was not as great as expected on April 6, with only 13 tornadoes confirmed, mostly in Kansas. Several of the tornadoes were damaging, but no fatalities and only a few injuries were reported. The reason for the relatively modest activity was due to the more stable than expected air mass that day over the region, with lower dewpoints and less wind shear despite the absence of a cap which would have otherwise allowed a massive outbreak.,
Things changed the next day in the South as the system moved eastward, with the cold front entering a more conducive environment. The increased wind shear, combined with the high heat and humidity, allowed tornadoes to begin forming in the late morning and continued throughout the afternoon, evening and even into the overnight hours. By the end of the day, a total of 48 tornadoes developed. Several of them caused significant damage, and even loss of life. The worst tornadoes hit Middle Tennessee, where 12 people were killed. In addition to the tornadoes, there have been many reports of hail as large as softballs and reports of powerful microbursts and straight-line winds, as well as local flooding. Extensive damage was also reported in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia as the storms reached that area overnight into the early morning of April 8.
Despite a lower risk of activity on April 8, the severe weather continued in Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia (mostly in the early morning hours) with another 13 tornadoes reported before the outbreak finally ended as the system moved offshore into the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the three-day period, 74 tornadoes were confirmed. The high number of overall tornadoes is exaggerated, however, by the fact that most were weak F0 or F1 tornadoes.
North Nashville area supercell
The most destructive supercell of the outbreak developed just northwest of Nashville at about 1:30 pm CDT (1830 UTC) in Dickson County and would track across the northern suburbs of Nashville including Cheatham, Davidson and Sumner Counties, killing nine people and damaging or destroying an estimated 1,000 homes.
The first tornado touched down near Charlotte at 1:30 pm CDT (1830 UTC). That tornado was a strong F3 tornado. Severe and extensive damage reported in that area including in Greenbrier. Reports suggested that at least 12 houses, including several mobile homes, were destroyed. In addition, at least 50 other houses were damaged, most of them were heavily damaged. That first tornado tracked towards Ashland City, where significant damage was reported in that community as well, including numerous houses and businesses damaged. Many trees and power lines were also knocked down. The worst impact was felt at Centennial Medical Center's Ashland City hospital site, which was damaged and lost its heating and air conditioning system, forcing several patients to be transferred to Nashville hospitals. No injuries were reported there.
The supercell then tracked into Davidson County and the northernmost part of the city of Nashville. It had been reported that a new tornado touched down in Whites Creek, a mostly rural area with light-scale development along US 431 near Old Hickory Boulevard, at about 2:00 pm CDT (1900 UTC). Damage was reported along a path stretching out to I-24 near Exit 40. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency reported that 15 houses and 10 other buildings were destroyed in the area, about 5 miles (8 km) north of the urban part of Nashville. However, that tornado was never confirmed; it was likely straight-line wind damage.
|All deaths are tornado-related|
The supercell then tracked into Goodlettsville where a new tornado touched down, striking the suburban area at around 2:15 pm CDT (1915 UTC) with considerable force. It touched down in a residential subdivision in the center of town, with considerable damage reported at City Hall and also a local church and to numerous houses, some of which were demolished. In total, 25 homes were destroyed in Goodlettsville and another 44 homes or businesses were damaged. The tornado then heavily damaged a busy commercial area along Long Hollow Pike, blowing the roofs off of several buildings and heavily damaging others. It also caused severe damage to the electricity network in the area, which was out for several days in some subdivisions in Goodlettsville. The tornado also caused a traffic nightmare as a direct result of tornado-related accidents on I-65 at Exit 97 just before rush hour. No deaths were reported in Goodlettsville, although seven injuries were reported, and public shelters were set up at two locations.
The tornado continued into Sumner County just north of Hendersonville. It damaged numerous houses in the area, before its devastating approach into Gallatin at about 2:30 pm CDT (1930 UTC). The community was devastated as a result. Several entire subdivisions, primarily along the north shore of Old Hickory Lake, were destroyed or flattened, killing nine people and injuring 121. Three of the deaths were on the southwest end of Gallatin near Old Hickory Lake, and the other six were in the area of South Water Avenue. Over 700 houses were damaged or destroyed, including about 80 in Hendersonville. The Woodhaven subdivision of Gallatin was later discovered to have been poorly constructed (considering the value of the homes), with boards nailed to the cinder blocks as the base of the foundation.
Volunteer State Community College suffered extensive damage to numerous buildings, briefly trapping many students before they were rescued with only a few minor injuries there. The front lawn of the college was littered with debris from the buildings after the tornado. The public relations director for the college, Angie Jowers, stated that having routine tornado drills paid off that day, as no one was killed on the campus. A commercial area was also hit hard, along with three large car dealerships near Vol State, which saw hundreds of cars destroyed. Damage to the campus was estimated at $56 million.
Station Camp High School, a local high school, also received notable damage from this storm, causing damage to its large athletic complex, tearing parts of the roof off, and flooding the gymnasium. Damage was also sustained to student and faculty vehicles.  The rating on the Fujita scale for this tornado was F3.
The tornado finally lifted after that, although the supercell continued eastward, prompting tornado warnings east of Gallatin as well.
On April 11, The National Weather Service Office in Nashville released a storm survey for the Nashville area tornadoes detailing the magnitude and path of each. This survey was subsequently updated on April 12. The path of the F3 Gallatin area tornado can clearly be seen in this survey, which is included in the image gallery below. Some of the tornadoes were later revised in the final reports released to the National Climatic Data Center.
Total damage from the supercell tornadoes was estimated at over $650 million.
Ironically, the outbreak also cut short the first of a two-day emergency preparedness drill to be held on April 7 and 8 in four Middle Tennessee counties: Davidson, Williamson, Sumner, and Wilson. The second day was cancelled. It was to be the nation's largest local disaster drill since Hurricane Katrina struck in late August 2005. In fact, the drill had to be rescheduled from around that time because of Katrina.
Warren County tornadoes
There were two confirmed tornado touchdowns in Warren County, Tennessee. An F1 moved across northern Warren County from about 4:45 pm CDT to 5:00 pm CDT. The first touchdown occurred along Lance Road, near Blue Hill Road, where large trees were snapped, uprooted, and blown down. Also, there was major damage to a large barn, and shingles were thrown off a roof. This tornado continued along a path due east where it crossed the intersection of TN-56 and TN-287. Damage was noted along this path. Two mobile homes on Foster Road were completely destroyed, and two fatalities occurred. The path width of the tornado was 150 yards, and the path length was 11 miles.
The second tornado, also an F1, in Warren County, occurred near the small town of Morrison, about 9 miles southwest of the county seat of McMinnville.The storm that produced this tornado came out of Coffee County. The first touchdown was along Caney Branch Road where there was extensive damage to a barn, a cinder block building was heavily damaged, and numerous large trees were downed. The third and last fatality in Warren County occurred in a trailer home on Bonner Road. The tornado continued slightly south of east in the County Club subdivision, where several homes sustained roof damage, outbiuildings were destroyed. The path width of this tornado was 100 yards, with a path length of 4 miles.
A total of 15 injuries were reported with the two Warren County tornadoes.
On the night after the tornado hit Gallatin, there were many reports of looting in the devastated community. A nightly curfew was required to combat the looting and maintain order in the community. There were a total of 23 arrests made. The United States National Guard was called in after the tornado hit to help with security and the removal of the excessive debris. It would take 10 days for Volunteer State Community College to re-open after the tornado hit.
On September 26, the Greater Nashville Regional Council awarded the authorities involved in the recovery (including the municipalities of Sumner County) the Marshall S. Stuart Memorial Award for outstanding intergovernmental cooperation after the tornado. The quick response by other local authorities, counties and cities was congratulated.
In early October, an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition featured a family from Hendersonville that had their home being rebuilt after it was destroyed by the tornado. However, insurance issues plus personal injuries held back the recovery for many, and some neighborhoods have been slow to recover. Nonetheless, many homes have been rebuilt in the area.
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