April 6–8, 2006 tornado outbreak
Rain-obscured shot of the F3 tornado in Gallatin, Tennessee that killed seven people.
|Date(s)||April 6–8, 2006|
|Duration||2 days, 2 hours, 6 minutes|
|Confirmed tornadoes||73 confirmed|
|Maximum rated tornado||F3 (Fujita scale)|
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 ten people dead. The worst damage took place in Gallatin, Tennessee. Other communities north of Nashville were also hard hit.
There were 73 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, 10 deaths were reported as a result of the tornadoes, 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, occurring just days after another 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, 73 tornadoes were confirmed. The high number of overall tornadoes is exaggerated, however, by the fact that most were weak F0 or F1 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.
- "Storms' losses linger". Gallatin News-Examiner. October 7, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-11.
- "NCDC Storm Events (searched under April 6, 7 and 8, 2006)". NOAA. November 11, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-11.
- "SPC High Risk Forecasts May 24, 2004–Present". Stoughton Piston Head Society. April 7, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-12.
- "11 People Killed by Storms in Tennessee". WHNT-TV. April 7, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-12.
- "Event Record Details (Goodlettsville)". NOAA. November 11, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-11.
- "Mid-State Remembers Deadly Tornadoes, 6 Mos. Later". WKRN-TV. October 9, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-12.
- Storm Prediction Center – preliminary April 7 storm reports log
- Stormtrack Forums – for reports by storm chasers and photographs of the tornadoes