News - Tornado outbreak of March 2-3, 2020

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Tornado outbreak of March 2-3, 2020

A series of large tornadoes touched down in West and Middle Tennessee on the night of March 2 and into the morning of March 3, 2020, including one that hit downtown Nashville and another that impacted areas just west of Cookeville. Twenty-six people were killed by the tornadoes, more than 300 were injured, and more than 70,000 lost power in the storm. The path of the Nashville tornado was very similar to the one that hit East Nashville in 1998. Tornadoes were also confirmed in Alabama, southeastern Missouri, and western Kentucky.

The threat for severe weather across Middle Tennessee and surrounding areas was not forecast well in advance. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) first issued a slight risk across northeastern Arkansas into the Tennessee Valley area in their 06:00 UTC March 2 outlook. In their forecast, the SPC noted that an unstable atmosphere was likely to materialize ahead of an approaching cold front, but that this environment would likely be contained by a capping inversion for most of the day.

By the afternoon hours, the SPC expected the combination of rich moisture, modest wind shear, and cold mid-level temperatures to promote the formation of supercells with a primary risk of large hail. Some tornadic activity appeared possible overnight given an increase in low-level winds. At 5:20 p.m. CST, the first tornado watch was issued from northern Arkansas northeastward into southern Indiana and western Kentucky as discrete storms began to develop.

By 11:00 p.m. CST, as a surface low progressed northeastward through southern Missouri, sustained barometric pressure falls caused supercell storms to give way to an organized storm cluster that gradually weakened as it progressed into an area of less abundant moisture. As convection weakened to the north, the SPC began to monitor areas farther south – encompassing eastern Arkansas, West Tennessee, and southwestern Kentucky – for reinvigorated thunderstorm development as the northern jet stream amplified southeastward into the risk area. Strong wind shear coupled with low instability was expected to promote activity with "a risk for severe hail, strong surface gusts and perhaps potential for a tornado or two." At 11:20 p.m. CST, a localized tornado watch was issued across middle Tennessee. In subsequent hours, a long-lived and intense supercell produced numerous tornadoes along the Interstate 40 corridor, including an EF2 tornado that touched down north of Camden, Tennessee, killing one person, an upper-end EF3 tornado in the vicinities of Nashville and Lebanon, killing six people, and an EF4 tornado in the vicinity of Cookeville, killing an additional 19 people.


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The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million km 2 ), the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles (10.1 million km 2 ). With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, and the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776. The war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties. The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, and gradually admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848.


Tornado outbreak of March 2-3 (English)