NASHVILLE – At least 24 people killed and an untold number of people displaced.
Across four counties in Tennessee, residents and officials are grasping with the devastation left by a powerful and fast-moving storm that cut across Middle Tennessee in the early hours of Tuesday morning, dropping at least one tornado that roared up to 175 mph.
Weather forecasters still working to survey damaged areas, especially in Putnam County, said Wednesday a single tornado caused about 50 miles of damage across Davidson, Wilson and Smith counties in Middle Tennessee.
It’s not yet known if the same tornado or a different one hit Cookeville, 80 miles east of Nashville.
Here’s what we know so far about how the storm formed and tore across the state, according to National Weather Service chat logs, eyewitness accounts and interviews with state and local officials.
10:15 p.m Monday
A storm chaser captured a photo of a tornado 4 miles east-northeast of Malden, Missouri, about 80 miles west of the Mississippi River from the northwestern corner of Tennessee.
It lingered for about three minutes.
11:02 p.m. Monday
Less than an hour later, the National Weather Service in Memphis issued a tornado warning for Camden, Tennessee, as a result of a supercell, a dangerous type of thunderstorm that can last hours and produce severe twisters.
Five minutes later, a tornado touched down in Camden in Benton County, about 80 miles west of Nashville. It knocked down several trees and caused significant damage to multiple houses as it tore its way east.
Carl Frazee, inside his mobile home near Ballard and Flatwoods roads, was thrown outside. He landed in his yard, which was littered with broken trees and debris.
Responders navigated through the yard to reach Frazee and another person living at the home, and carried the two to an ambulance to be rushed to the emergency room.
Frazee, 67, died from “many injuries” at the hospital, authorities said. Two other residents sustained injuries.
Along with Frazee’s demolished home, several other residences within a couple of miles suffered severe damage while many others throughout the area had missing shingles and downed tree limbs.
11:45 p.m. Monday
The storm then moved across the Tennessee River. Golf ball-sized hail began to fall as the storm increased in strength and volatility.
It barreled toward Nashville at a particular dangerous time as many people slept. Nighttime tornadoes pose a greater danger to the public, likely resulting in more than twice as many fatalities as tornadoes that occur during the day, according to a study by University of Tennessee.
Funnel clouds quickly formed.
“This is how tornadoes happen,” said Brendan Schaper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “A lot of time in Middle Tennessee we see lines of strong to severe storms.
“Within those lines we can get quick little spin-ups. Those little quick spin-ups usually don’t offer us as much lead time because the tornadoes happen quickly and then they are gone.”
12:35 a.m. Tuesday
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Davidson, Sumner and Wilson counties.
Three minutes later, a twister touched down directly over the John C. Tune Airport in Nashville, with radar picking up on debris from extensive damage at the airport, including the terminal, hangar and airfield.
More than 90 aircraft are destroyed. Later, debris from the airport would be found miles away.
Three minutes after that, the NWS warned of a “large and extremely dangerous” tornado near Nashville.
A EF-2 tornado with winds of 125 mph passed north of the Tennessee State Capitol at 12:41 a.m. It blew out windows, overturned cars, broke gas lines and tangled power lines.
In its wake, a path of collapsed homes stretched through North Nashville and Germantown.
A Kroger gas station sustained significant damage. Flipped shopping carts lined the parking lot.
The storm left wires strewn across Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and the neighboring Tennessee State Museum’s lawn.
12:45 a.m. Tuesday
An EF-3 tornado hit East Nashville with winds of 136-140 mph – down the same path tornadoes had followed in 1933 and 1998.
A boutique store, Molly Green, was completely wiped out, its once colorful bricks becoming a pile of rubble. Patrons at bars at Five Points came out to walk the streets to see the destruction the tornado had left. A defunct Family Dollar, set to be renovated for a new bar, had been destroyed, along with Burger Up, where water spouted high in the sky.
Siding, slabs of concrete and other building materials ripped from structures were scattered up and down Main Street. Victims of the storm included businesses old and new, run-down and upscale, name brands and mom-and-pop – all part of the growing East Nashville enclave.
Tennessee tornadoes:What we know about victims and recovery efforts
With wind speeds up to 165 mph the storm continued into Donelson and Hermitage at 12:53, where it nearly leveled an entire subdivision.
The Donelson Christian Academy was torn apart, metal trailers moved hundreds of feet, trees uprooted and many lives shattered in an otherwise quiet community near Nashville’s international airport.
The tornado left dozens of homes in the Donelson area torn to shreds.
12:54 a.m. Tuesday
In Mount Juliet about 20 miles east of Nashville, roofs were torn off homes, schools nearly leveled and electric poles and trees downed. People were rescued from homes that had collapsed.
Less than 10 minutes later, an EF-1 tornado was confirmed just north of the Interstate 40 interchange in Lebanon, heading east. It carved a path of destruction through Wilson County.
Lebanon resident Jeremy Reeves tweeted a photo of a fax cover sheet he found cleaning up storm debris in his yard. It was from John C. Tune Airport in Nashville, 40 miles away.
The storm caused extensive damage to West Wilson Middle and Stoner Creek Elementary schools.
1:48 a.m. Tuesday
A severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near Cookeville in Putnam County.
The tornado ravaged neighborhoods off of Highway 70 between Baxter and Cookeville. It reduced homes to rubble, tossing cars and rendering neighborhoods unrecognizable.
3:25 a.m. Tuesday
The first reports that the storm had been deadly came, as Nashville police announce two fatalities in East Nashville.
Michael Dolfini, 36, and Albree Sexton, 33, were killed as they ran to their car from Attaboy Lounge, where Dolfini worked.
6:14 a.m. Tuesday
As the sun rose, the extent of the damage began to become clearer.
Those who slept through the storm woke up to the news of death and destruction.
Residents across impacted areas were asked to stay off the streets that were flooded or blocked by downed power lines and the rubble of destroyed buildings.
Emergency personnel had already responded to some neighborhoods, going door-to-door to check on residents. Neighbors looked for missing friends and family.
Thousands were left without power.
And the death toll rose.
James Eaton, 84, and Donna Eaton, 81, died at their home on in Mount Juliet, and Brandy Barker, 38, of Lebanon was killed at a warehouse while working security.
In Putnam County, at least 18 people died, including several children, and 88 were injured in a 2 mile stretch west of town – the highest death toll in the state from the storm.
Contributing: Joel Ebert, Andy Humbles, Brandon Shields, Sandy Mazza, Gentry Estes and USA TODAY.
Follow Yihyun Jeong on Twitter: @yihyun_jeong.