So we thought living ITP would keep us free of the trailer-park loving cyclonic activity we usually think of out in the hinterlands. Well, not so much. The photo above is not by me – it was taken by photographer Shane Durrence and shown by WXIA here in Atlanta and shows, backlit by lightning, the tornado on the ground over downtown at the far left of the image.
We got the tornado warning (SMS from wunderground.com) about five minutes before it hit on Friday night. It was a fairly generic notice – for the whole county – so I wasn’t really worried, didn’t grab the kids etc. as they were asleep. In seconds the rain began to pound and swirl, and then we heard that classic freight train sound. I actually went out on our back deck to grab some things that were flying around – silly me. And then it was done. Turns out that the 200-yard-wide EF2 tornado (estimated winds of 135mph) had carved a path from the west side of the Georgia Dome (the Vine City neighborhood) onward over the dome, ripping sections of the roof away just as it did about ten years ago when I was there covering a game (designed that way?) then right over the Ga World Congress Center and past CNN Center and Centennial Park. That side of CNN and the Omni had dozens of windows blown out – including ones just feet from my friend Steve Almasy, one of the handful of folks working at 9:45pm on Friday night in the CNN.com newsroom and near my friend Kate Sandhaus’ desk. The twister then went past Centennial Tower, the Georgia Pacific Building, the Westin Peachtree Tower and the Equitable – taking out many windows, interestingly mostly on upper floors. Then the storm headed towards us – taking the roof off parts of the Cotton Mill Lofts and then destroying close to 20 homes in the Cabbagetown neighborhood – but sparing Sam’s preschool, the Grant Park Cooperative campus in C-town, only a block away from the worst damage. Then the tornado crossed over I-20 and hit parts of East Atlanta, coming less than 1/2 mile from our house – we were really lucky.
The second round of twisters that came through North GA on Saturday had us taking things quite seriously, holed up in an interior closet for the duration of the warnings. That only resulted in 1/4″ hail without much other damage at our place – but two deaths in a rural county near Atlanta. Weather is serious business.