Nashvillians remember ‘Super Outbreak’ of tornadoes that killed, injured dozens 45 years ago


The famous “Super Outbreak” spawned at least 148 tornadoes in 13 states from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes.  When it was over, 330 people were dead and 5,484 were injured. 

Across Middle Tennessee, at least 24 tornadoes touched down, making this the most massive outbreak of tornadoes ever to impact the mid-state. In all, 38 people lost their lives here in Middle Tennessee alone.

The tornadoes generally occurred from the I-65 corridor eastward. Some experts believe there are several that were never officially recorded, including some in the Nashville area where damage was reported at 100 Oaks Mall and in the Harding Place area.

“In 1974, I was driving down Harding Place, westbound, and next thing I look and see a giant funnel cloud.,” recalls News 2 photographer and Nashville native Al Devine. “It looked like it was going down Woodmont Blvd. Behind that were, I guess they call them, ‘Sister Twisters,’ two smaller tornadoes that were wrapped around each other following that. So there were like three twisters going down Woodmont Blvd., and the destruction was amazing.”

In South Middle Tennessee, places like Lincoln, Franklin, and Coffee counties were hit twice, including two F-4 rated storms. One of those had been an F-5 in Huntsville, Ala., and killed 32 people across both states.

(Courtesy: Niki Gentry)

But by far, the worst carnage was in East Middle Tennessee —  in White, Putnam, Overton, Pickett, and Fentress Counties — where 25 fatalities occurred, and three F-4 tornadoes roared across the area.

The total of 38 fatalities in Middle Tennessee is the second most with 62 April 29, 1909.

A reminder of what can happen, especially this time of the year.

Download the free News 2 StormTracker App from WKRN and Nashville’s News 2 and be prepared when severe weather strikes.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss