Atlanta Tornado Confirmed; Saturday Storms Leave 2 Dead

By: Stephen Bowers, Associated Press, CBS, and CNN Email
By: Stephen Bowers, Associated Press, CBS, and CNN Email

Strong thunderstorms blasted through Downtown Atlanta Friday night spawning a tornado that brought about damage to areas near Centennial Park in Atlanta. The National Weather Service conducted a damage survey Saturday morning that says the damage was caused by an EF-2 tornado - the rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale indicating winds were 111-135 mph. The National Weather Service says the tornado cut a 6-mile-long path and was the width of two football fields.

Major damage was reported to CNN, and strips of roof were ripped off of the Georgia Dome during the Mississippi State versus Alabama SEC tournament game. The Kentucky versus Georgia game had to be postponed. Damage was also reported at Phillips Arena where the Atlanta Hawks were playing against the LA Clippers. No deaths have been reported, but at least 27 people were treated for minor injuries and cuts.

The National Weather Service in Atlanta is expected to hold a press conference around noon today with a confirmation on whether or not a tornado caused the damage in Atlanta.

In the wake of the storms, the National Weather Service issued another tornado watch around 11 am Saturday morning for northern Georgia - including Atlanta. The watch is set to expire at 7 pm Saturday evening. All Downtown Atlanta events - including the St. Patrick's Day Parade - have been canceled.

Update: 5:30 pm March 15

(CBS/AP) Officials in Polk County have confirmed at least two deaths resulting from Saturday's severe weather.

CBS Affiliate WGCL reports that a person died on Bon Loop Road, but they could not confirm whether the person died in a house. The location of the second fatality has not been confirmed.

Also in Polk County, railroad traffic has been stopped due to trees that have been blown down onto the tracks.

Update: 7 pm March 15

ARAGON, Georgia (CNN) -- At least two people died Saturday as wave after wave of dangerous thunderstorms pounded northern Georgia, including the metropolitan Atlanta area, still reeling from a tornado that sliced through the downtown area a day before.

A woman died and her husband was seriously injured when a tornado leveled their home in the Live Oak community, just north of Aragon, Polk County officials said. Aragon is about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Aragon police were looking for damage when they found the house about 12:30 p.m., Polk County Police Chief Kenneth Dodd said. The brick and frame home was leveled.

The husband was taken to a Rome, Georgia, hospital, Dodd said.

Five dead dogs were found in a nearby field, and other injured animals were taken to an animal control agency, he said.

A second person died and two others were injured about seven miles southeast of Lindale, in the Wax community in Floyd County, when a possible tornado struck about 4:30 p.m., said Scotty Hancock, the county emergency management director.

The National Weather Service estimated that 20 homes were destroyed in the area. Hancock said authorities were preparing to take cover again Saturday afternoon as another wave of storms moved in.

There were 41,000 people without power statewide Saturday evening, according to Georgia Power.

Damage was also reported in Bartow County, Georgia, and in Taylorsville and Cartersville, about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta; a suspected tornado touchdown was reported in Gainesville, in Hall County.

A tornado was also reported in northern Forsyth County, sheriff's Capt. Michael Honiker said. At least one structure fire was reported, he said. However, officials had not been able to survey damage, as deputies were being asked to wait for the second system to move through the area.

Hail nearly 2 inches in diameter was reported in Dawson and Hall counties, the weather service said.

Saturday's severe weather followed an EF-2 tornado, with top winds of up to 135 mph, that ripped through downtown Atlanta on Friday night, causing heavy damage to homes and businesses in the area. There were no fatalities and only one serious injury.

Rain, wind and hail caused additional power outages Saturday in the Atlanta area and triggered delays of more than an hour for flights leaving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to an airport spokesman.

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