Friday, April 10, 2009

Tornadoes Smash Middle Tennessee

Murfreesboro has been hit hard. 2 dead, hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed or badly damaged.

The middle Tennessee area has been dealing with tornadoes for about the last dozen years. Hardly any community has been spared during this time. Before this time period, tornadoes did occur but never to the extent that they do now. Growing up in this area, it was a rare occurrence. Not anymore.

This is the worst damage Murfreesboro has ever seen. The Daily News Journal has the best local coverage if you are interested.


Update: 3/11/09
After the storm cut 15-mile path, focus turns to cleanup

With search and rescue efforts complete, the focus in Murfreesboro is moving to cleaning up the mess tornadoes left behind.

The National Weather Service said today that Friday's tornado was an EF3 with winds 136-165 mph. The tornado's path was 15 miles long and a half-mile wide, according to an NWS meteorologist.A total of 42 people were injured and two people killed in the afternoon storms. About 450 homes were affected — 100 of those completely destroyed — by the tornadic winds, Smith said. {more}

New mom, baby girl die trying to escape from storm's wrath

Kori Bryant was under the rubble, her infant daughter still strapped in her car seat several yards away, when the tornado was finally finished with Rutherford County.

The young mother and her 9-week-old daughter, Olivia, were the first two fatalities reported from the storm that injured more than 40 people. John Bryant, Kori's husband, was critically injured. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Donnie Smith said all the injuries were in Rutherford County. That number — and the number of deaths — may rise. Search and rescue efforts continued throughout the night.

Mayvis Werner, John Bryant's grandmother, said she had yet to meet Olivia, the pretty baby girl born just nine weeks ago at 9 pounds whom her grandson was so thrilled to be raising.

"He's going to be devastated," Werner said. "He still didn't know they were dead."

The family learned of the danger before the Bryants felt the impact. John Bryant's brother was tracking the storm about 12:45 p.m. when he realized the twister was headed for his brother's house on Sulphur Springs Road. He called Werner's home in Alabama to tell his mother where the tornado was about to hit.

"He saw it happen," Werner said.

Andrew Piro, 23, a student at Middle Tennessee State University, also was following the tornado with a video camera in hand. Piro turned into a neighborhood near Wilkerson Lane and ended up trapped when a utility pole fell across the road behind his car.

He said he got out to help with rescue efforts once he saw the damage.

"It looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off,'' Piro said.

"Me and one guy went off together. We met a guy who said his brother's wife and baby were missing. You could see he'd been crying and was shaken up.''

"It broke my heart"

Piro said he and the other man went to what remained of the house where friends had last seen Kori Bryant.

They found her outside the house, under the debris.

"It broke my heart,'' Piro said.

Emergency management workers thought they might have been trying to get in their car when the brunt of the storm bore down on their house. John Bryant was found unconscious and taken to the hospital, where he was in surgery late Friday, according to family members.

According to a colleague, Kori Bryant worked in the marketing department at the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department. She took photographs and also worked with the Project Go! program, an anti-drug program for children in the city.

"She was a sweet girl," Werner said of Kori Bryant. "She loved" motherhood.

The Tennessean


Daily News Journal...WKRN...WSM...News Channel 5...The Tennessean

Murfreesboro Tornado Photos

Aerial Photos of Murfreesboro Tornado

Video of Tornado


  1. Hello, I know that houses built of wood and cheaper material are lower in price. But isn't there a way to build homes of concrete, of cement and blocks instead of the cardboard and wood cheaper material that house construction companies use? Because i think that houses built of concrete can stand tornatoes, hurricanes and cyclones, better than houses built of cheaper, weaker material

  2. Before this time period, tornadoes did occur but never to the extent that they do now. Growing up in this area, it was a rare occurrence.

    Climate change? I know that the weather of 40 years ago has changed drastically to the weird shit of today.

    Back then, getting a 3" or more rain was a freak occurence.
    Now, getting rains of 3" or more, even up to 5", in a couple of hours is the norm.

    Wind storms scream out of Oklahoma, sounding like a flock of deranged banshees.

    And that hurricane, Ike, that came thru about two years ago, had enough power to flatten Galveston, TX, then raise hell when it rampaged thru Texas, Oklahoma, parts of Kansas, MO, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and adjoining states, finally making landfall in NY state where it still had enough juice to knock out power to 100,000 homes.

    Our bats are disappearing, since it gets so warm in mid-January, trees start budding out, then the cold comes back and kills off some bats and all the bugs that hatched.

    And the ice storms, Jesus Christ, are straight from hell.

    Something's going on and I don't need Al Gore to tell me that.

  3. m-s,
    I just came back from Murfreesboro but didn't get to see a lot or take pictures because many of the roads are blocked.

    Your observation holds true. On one road a concrete block building was standing with only minor damage while the others around it were basically destroyed. Murfreesboro has grown too fast the last decade or so and so many of the newer houses are like cardboard as you say.

    Your thoughts are mirrored in a lot of people around here. We who have been around long enough can see the climate has changed. I'm just not of the opinion that CO2 is the cause.

    I talked to a crew from Service Electric about a week ago who went to Missouri to repair poles and lines after your last ice storm. It was not a fun time for them but they'll do it again if needed as they make big bucks when they go out of state.

    The tension around here gets pretty high when the storm warnings come. At least the tracking and continuous coverage most likely has saved lives. The volunteer firemen here in my little town have a drill where they ride around before the storm with their sirens blasting to warn anyone who may not have the TV on. We appreciate that.

    One gripe I have is that my radios with TV audio are soon to be obsolete when the digital conversion finally happens. Having used them many times in storms where the power is off, including yesterday, I hate to have to buy a new one just for that and most likely they won't be cheap.

  4. I live on a hilltop in SW Ozarks. And although we get some windstorms that will blow the hell out of anything not nailed down and tornados, one thing I've never seen is a tornado touch down on hills.

    All of the pictures, news shows and newspaper photos of tornados I've seen looks like they touched down on flat or relatively flat areas.

    I'm wondering if the thermal currents are too screwy on hillsides for tornados and help prevent touchdown???

    Yeah, I bet those utility service repair guys did make some big bucks.
    After that last ice storm, in northern Arkansas alone, there was something like 2,000 electrical poles that had been bowed over by the weight of ice or snapped and were needing replacement.

  5. Your observation on tornadoes not touching down on hill tops is the same around here. I even mentioned it to my daughter and her husband yesterday because they live on a hill.

    The tornadoes last Feb. in Fairview did move through some hill sides but did not touch the peaks of the highest ones.

    Hopefully that pattern will continue but it still doesn't ease the stress when the storm warnings come.

  6. There is a house in Murfreesboro being built out by Oakland High School. It's built to be tornado proof. Hope they never have to find out.