ATHENS (WATE) – The National Weather Service has confirmed at least two tornadoes hit Tennessee as storms rolled through Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The National Weather Service in Morristown is estimating a McMinn County tornado as an EF-2 tornado with winds from 111-135 miles per hour, according to WATE meteorologist Ken Weathers. Weathers said the assessment is still ongoing.
The National Weather Service also confirmed an EF-1 tornado hit Tullahoma on Tuesday night.
The tornado was visually spotted on Highway 55 by a trained spotter just before 9:15 p.m.
Homeowner Vollie Stone told WKRN the sound he heard when the storm moved through was unmistakable.
“While I was on the phone on my back porch, I heard it,” he said. “I said, ‘Holy moly!’ You could plainly hear the whooshing, roaring sound. The power went off and I headed for the basement.”
According to the National Weather Service, winds reached as high as 105 mph. Many trees are reported down throughout the town and a few dozen homes were damaged by fallen trees.
Storms went through East Tennessee overnight and into early morning Wednesday. The storms caused tornado and thunderstorm warnings, heavy rain and hail.
The McMinn County Sheriff’s chief deputy says there was significant damage to homes in Deerfield Estates on SR 307. At least 23 people were injured. Authorities tell WATE one of the people injured was pregnant. A tree fell on her. There is no information on the extent of her injuries.
Viewers shared photos of damage to a Save-A-Lot location in Athens.
McMinn County, Etowah City and Athens school districts are closed for the day. Cleveland State Community College is closed today.
McMinn County Mayor John Gentry is asking volunteers to not coming to the area in order to allow emergency operations to take place. The county says the many areas are too dangerous due to downed power lines. Monroe County is providing ambulance and fire assistance to McMinn County.
School buses are preparing to transport displaced residents to a safer area. The Red Cross has created a shelter at Keith Memorial United Methodist Church.
Tennessee Department of Health confirmed that two people died in the state, a husband and wife in Polk County. There were injuries in Polk, Marion and McMinn counties.