Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tornado startles Atlanta!

Tornado startles Atlanta

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/15/08

Visitors, conventioneers visibly shaken

One of the most visible casualties of Friday's weather wrath was the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting. Thousands of attendees were turned away Saturday morning from the Georgia World Congress Center.

Several recounted Friday night's trauma.

"The wind just kept getting faster and faster and louder and louder," said dentist Doug Clepper of Augusta. He and his wife took the fire escape downstairs from their 10th floor room in Omni Hotel.

"It was very surreal. People were dressed up for parties. Women were crying," Clepper said.

The storm was a huge blow to an estimated 24,000 exhibitors, speakers and professionals attending the dental show.

The GWCC roof had heavy damage. Exhibitors faced the task of trying to remove exhibits, some of them large, after the cancellation.

Outside the GWCC, a dozen tables and umbrellas were a tumble of plastic.

Throughout the CNN, Omni and GWCC complex, workers cleared glass and debris. Twenty-foot sections of metal roofing lie twisted in parking lots. Insulation was left hanging in trees outside CNN. Dozens of windows at the Omni were missing.

The CNN atrium was closed Saturday morning.

Outside CNN and the hotel were several parked cars, windows blown out by the force of the winds.

Terrell Brown of Centric Orthodontics of Marietta said the postponement of the Hinman meeting could mean thousands of dollars in lost revenue for companies that sell their products at the show.

"To lose a full day could cost you a third of your projected revenue," Brown said.

Timmi Hagan and Kori Singleton of Macon were attending the Hinman meeting and staying at The Glenn hotel on Marietta street.

They rushed to a closet when the tornado came through late Friday.

"We saw people running," Hagan, a dentist, said. They feared the window to their room would shatter, but it did not.

A building on Nassau Street adjacent to Techwood Drive crumbled onto nearby cars when Centennial Park, CNN Center and the Georgia Dome were damaged. Ben Gray/AJC

Also See More photos: Gallery 2, Latest story | More Weather photos


The tornado that left behind extensive damage packed winds up to 130 mph and was rated an EF-2 storm, said Lance Rothfusz, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City. Story

During Alabama and Mississippi State SEC tournament basketball game a tornado may have hit the Georgia Dome.


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