1998-04-16: Nashville tornado outbreak

As many of you know, on April 15-16, 1998 a tornado outbreak targeted E. Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.
In Nashville, the strongest tornado, an F3 touched down at Charlotte & 46th Avenues. This is very close to the location that the 1933 tornado touched down.

The 1998 F3 tornado tracked into northern Wilson county, and finally lifting near Hartsville, in Trousdale county. This tornado took almost the same path as it's 1933 counter-part. In Nashville, the tornado caused significant damage in downtown, and destroyed houses in East Nashville, and even causing damage at Adelphia Coliseum (which is now LP Field) and killing Vanderbilt University student Kevin Longinotti. There were two additional tornadoes, about an hour apart. Both were rated at F-2.

All in all, this single storm (and the series of three tornadoes) left 100 Million dollars in damage and only one fatality, which is remarkable, given the fact that Nashville didn't have storm warning sirens at the time. There are now 74 sirens in place.

This outbreak produced the only official F-5 in Tennessee state history. A supercell east of Memphis hit an outflow boundary, and rapidly intensified. This "forgotten F5" occurred near Clifton, TN in rural Wayne county. This tornado tracked over mostly rural areas, often times being over a mile across. This tornado took three lives and injured 36

Information sourced from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_Nashville_tornado_outbreak#Confirmed_tornadoes
Earlier that day, in Smyrna, I experienced severe thunderstorms, several were tornado-warned, and spent most of the day diving into our bathroom for shelter.
I watched this tornado approach the Skycam on channel 5, and was in total horror as the dark 'wall' overtook Nashville, and then finally the camera - Snow was all I saw, until I switched channels. News Channel Five (WTVF-TV) was off the air for the better part of the evening, except for briefly at their transmitter site at Brick Church Pike, using one of their news vans. 4/16/1998 will be a day that I will never forget, the day Nashville was changed forever.

Feel free to discuss/add info. Any chasers or spotters that were on these Sup's as they crossed TN, I'd love to hear your experiences.

John Farley

Apr 1, 2004
Pagosa Springs, CO
I remember the Nashville day well, in part because the previous day on the 15th I bagged a brief (but rather large) tornado with the same general weather system near Red Bud, IL.

One thing that fascinates me about the Nashville tornado is that the towercam videos from downtown Nashville showed a very wide circulation wtih no visible funnel - just a broad area of rotating clouds, rain curtains, and lots of power flashes.
Aug 4, 2008
Nashville, TN
Back in '98 I was working on the se side of town, down I-24. Being at work, all I had was my weather radio and a tv in our breakroom. As soon as I realized the 'cell was going to pass right over downtown, I left work and headed that way. Traffic was unreal once I got to I-40 heading west and I got hung up in a great spot just past Fesslers Lane and watched the whole thing go by...was a good day and my first tor :)
Jun 24, 2010
Norman, OK
Roy Britt posted up three videos from this day on his YouTube channel (vortexva) that I recommend checking out.

This first video was shot at the Davidson County Sheriff's Office Training Center as the tornado was going through downtown and East Nashville.

This next video was taken at WTVF News Channel 5's studio. IIRC they took a direct hit by this tornado or came pretty close to getting hit.

This last video is of the Forgotten F5 that struck Lawrenceburg. This is the video that was shown on an old TLC show called Storm Force: Tornado.
  • Like
Reactions: Roy Britt