MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – April 14, 2009 -- (The Tennessean) -- Friday's storm was even worse than originally suspected - a EF-4 category tornado with winds that reached 170 mph in places.
The National Weather Service completed its storm survey and reported that the funnel cloud stayed on the ground for an astonishing 22 miles.
"I don't use the word miraculous, but it does make it all the more remarkable that there weren't more deaths and injuries when you consider the length of the tornado's track. It reached all the way back, almost to the Williamson County line," said National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Johnstone.
The tornadoes killed two, injured at least 48, hit 794 structures and caused about $34.8 million in damage. As many as 98 homes were destroyed, 156 were badly damaged and 227 houses are affected but habitable.
With storm clouds gathering on Monday, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker joined the caravan of state and local leaders who have toured the tornado-damaged areas of Murfreesboro.
"Our hearts go out to the families," said Alexander, noting that he and Corker would assist Gov. Phil Bredesen and U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon in seeking disaster relief funds from President Barack Obama. "It's not a race to see how fast you can do it, but how well you do it."
The Monday storm front sparked tornado watches and severe storm warnings across Middle Tennessee, but the region escaped without further damage.
John Bryant, whose wife and 9-week-old baby died in the tornado, remains in intensive care at Middle Tennessee Medical Center, but his condition was upgraded to fair Monday afternoon. Four other storm victims remain in the hospital in good condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
In addition to the tornado that hit Murfreesboro, the National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado, with winds of up to 100 mph, hit a small area of the county along Bradyville Pike. The tornado was an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
Cleanup crews worked through the weekend to clear away storm debris.
Category 4 tornado leaves 22-mile scar in Rutherford County
April 14, 2009