Saturday night, downtown Atlanta was closed off as recovery teams moved in after a tornado touched down in downtown Atlanta. Crews worked to restore traffic lights and remove debris from the streets A heavy thunderstorm prompted the issuing of more tornado warnings Saturday afternoon. Storms were seen forming in Alabama and heading toward Atlanta. At least two people were killed Saturday afternoon as the same storm system destroyed buildings in northern Georgia.
The tornado touched down in downtown Atlanta Friday night and covered 6 miles in 20 minutes including the site of CNN. "This was clearly a tornado." The National Weather Service's Peachtree City, Georgia, office said the storm was an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, meaning the presence of top winds of 130 miles per hour.
It is believed that 20 historic homes were damaged or destroyed by the tornado. About 10,000 residences were without power Saturday morning, according to Georgia Power, but by about 5:35 p.m. that number had increased to 41,000. Crews were working to restore power but were withdrawn when more bad weather threatened. Earlier, a Georgia Power spokesman said more than 40 power poles were toppled by Friday night's tornado.
Curtains flapped through broken windows at the 73-story Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel downtown. There were holes in the roof of the Georgia World Congress Center. The storm halted a Southeastern Conference game between Alabama and Mississippi State.
"It sounded like the fans were banging on the seats or stomping their feet, but it kept up and got a lot louder," one witness said. "Then the ceiling of the Dome started waving, the giant TV screens were waving, and light fixtures and dust started falling."
A man in the facility said he actually witnessed several persons being lifted up into the air and then dropped down again. The game resumed about an hour later, but a later game between Kentucky and Georgia was postponed.
Police closed streets in the vicinity of CNN Center because of glass and debris. Inside CNN Center, water poured through the damaged roof into the building's atrium while CNN anchors reported on the damage live, pointing their cameras on the destruction as they spoke.