Twister strikes downtown Atlanta

Damage to buildings was evident early Saturday after a tornado hit downtown Atlanta on Friday night. Dozens were hurt. Two deaths were reported in Georgia from other storms Saturday.

Associated Press

Damage to buildings was evident early Saturday after a tornado hit downtown Atlanta on Friday night. Dozens were hurt. Two deaths were reported in Georgia from other storms Saturday.

ATLANTA — Storms killed two people Saturday in Georgia near the Alabama line, less than 24 hours after a tornado with wind up to 130 mph cut a 6-mile path through downtown Atlanta, blowing windows out of skyscrapers.

At least 27 people were hurt Friday, though no injuries were believed to be life-threatening.

More thunderstorms passed through the Atlanta area Saturday, but the city's downtown appeared to have been spared anymore substantial damage.

Elsewhere in Georgia on Saturday, storms killed one person in Polk County and another in Floyd County, emergency management officials said.

Crews hauled broken glass and furniture out of Atlanta's streets Saturday, and all scheduled events were canceled, including the St. Patrick's Day parade.

Friday's storm smashed hundreds of skyscraper windows, blew furniture and luggage out of hotel rooms, crumbled part of an apartment building, and rattled a packed sports arena.

Streets around the Georgia Dome, Phillips Arena, the CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park were littered with glass, downed power lines, bricks, insulation and office furniture. Billboards collapsed onto cars.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine estimated damage from Friday night's storm at $150-million to $200-million, most of it at the Georgia World Congress Center, a state convention facility. He said the storm broke through the roof, sucking walls, glass and furnishings out.

Among those surprised by the storm were the 18,000 basketball fans at the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament at the Georgia Dome.

The first sign was rumbling and the rippling of the dome's fabric roof. Catwalks swayed and insulation rained down on players in the Mississippi State-Alabama game, sending fans fleeing toward the exits and the teams to their locker rooms. No injuries were reported.

"I thought it was a tornado or a terrorist attack," said Mississippi State guard Ben Hansbrough, whose team won 69-67.

It wasn't clear when or if a weather alert issued eight minutes before the twister hit was passed on to fans, said Katy Pando, a dome spokeswoman. Fans said they never heard or saw one.

Twister strikes downtown Atlanta 03/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:39am]

    

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