Floridema Gabriel Perez, 31, and toddler son Anthony Elmer Mendez were killed when a mobile home rolled onto their house in the northern Nashville suburb of Madison, the Metro Nashville Police Department said.
Joseph Dalton, 37, who was in the mobile home when it flipped, was also killed. Dalton’s 10-year-old son and Perez’s 7-year-old son were taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries, among 23 people who were injured in the storm, authorities said.
Three other people were killed in the Clarksville area of Montgomery County, near the state border with Kentucky, after a tornado struck at around 2pm.
The terrifying twisters damaged buildings, flipped vehicles and knocked out power to tens of thousands of residents.
Footage posted to social media showed a huge fireball erupt south of the city of Goodlettsville as a tornado swept through the area.
Rescue teams were searching for survivors and surveying damage on Sunday morning, the Nashville Office of Emergency Management said on X.
Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts declared a state of emergency in the city on Saturday night and imposed a curfew.
“This is devastating news and our hearts are broken for the families of those who lost loved ones,” said in a statement.
“The city stands ready to help them in their time of grief.”
Officials said it was “vitally important” that residents stay away from devastated areas to allow emergency crews and utility workers to go about their work unimpeded.
Governor Bill Lee thanked first responders for their quick response in a statement posted to X on Saturday night.
“Maria and I are praying for all Tennesseans who have been impacted by the tornadoes that swept through the state this evening,” he said.
The National Weather Service said at least two large, dangerous tornadoes had touched down in Montgomery County and near the town of Rutherford in Gibson County.
Two dozen more tornado reports were received across five states on Saturday, sparked by a sprawling weather system that brought storms to a large swathe of the eastern US, the NWS said.
The adverse weather conditions were expected to last into Sunday.
Montgomery County mayor Wes Golden said: “We are praying for those who are injured, lost loved ones, and lost their homes. This community pulls together like no other and we will be here until the end.”
The storm came nearly two years to the day after 41 tornadoes were recorded through a handful of heartland states, including 16 in Tennessee and eight in Kentucky. A total of 81 people died in Kentucky alone.
Photos posted by the Clarksville fire department on social media showed damaged houses with debris strewn across lawns, a tractor-trailer flipped on its side on a highway and insulation ripped out of building walls.
More than 63,000 homes were without power across Tennessee and Alabama on Sunday morning, according to Poweroutage.us.