CoreLogic weather forensics captured tornado, hail, and straight-line wind paths
Severe thunderstorms moved through the southeastern U.S. over the weekend of Dec. 8, highlighting that severe convective storm (SCS) season is not constrained to only part of the year. The storms produced property-destroying tornadoes in north-central Tennessee, including Nashville, with some storms reaching into southern Kentucky.
CoreLogic estimated that 10,345 single- and multifamily homes have at least a 30% chance of tornadic damage in Tennessee and Kentucky. The majority of damage is expected in Tennessee (Table 1).
|Probability of Tornadic Damage
|Number of Residential Properties
Table 1: Number of residential properties within tornado footprints by state and probability of tornadic damage.
About the Storm
The most damaging tornado started on Dec. 9 just north of Clarksville, Tennessee and near the Kentucky border. The National Weather Service (NWS) Preliminary Local Storm Report noted that an EF-3 tornado touched down near the Fort Campbell Army base before traveling northeast damaging or destroying buildings in several neighborhoods along its path.
Included in the damage survey are heavily damaged or destroyed mobile/manufactured homes near Britton Springs Road. Homes shifted off their foundation near Eva Drive and dozens of multi-storied brick apartment homes near Preaches Mill Road were severely damaged. This initial report estimated that the tornado affected 1,000 homes including 114 that were destroyed.
A History of Tennessee Tornadoes
While states like Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas are known for the worst severe weather activity, tornadoes are not uncommon in Tennessee. According to the NWS, as of Aug. 18, there were 32 confirmed tornadoes in Tennessee in 2023. This is consistent with the 30-year annual average of 32 tornadoes per year and is slightly higher than the longer-term, 70-year annual average of 19 tornadoes per year. However, it is relatively rare for Tennessee to have tornadoes in December. March through May is the most active season (Figure 2).
A contributing factor to this season’s storms is the current phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
The La Niña or Neutral phases of ENSO are typically associated with an active tornado season from March through May. However, the shift to the El Niño phase that occurred in 2023 can influence southeastern U.S. tornadic activity later in the year. El Niño phases coincide with a southeastern shift in the jet stream as well as increased precipitation in the Southeast.
This aligns with the historical record. The deadliest and most damaging late-season tornado was a November F-4 tornado in Maury County, Tennessee that occurred during an El Niño phase in 1900.
This will be CoreLogic Hazard HQ Command Central™ final update on the Tennessee tornadoes unless new data becomes available.
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