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Just want to make sure all our Atlanta ESer's are alright.

Sweet Sassy Molassy

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Hope no one was seriously injured.

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Tornado pummels downtown Atlanta, Georgia Dome

Meteorologist Mike Griesinger at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City said Saturday morning that was indeed a tornado that hit downtown.

"Hard to argue with that," he said.

A survey crew of two — including Meteorologist In Charge Lans Rothfuse — was heading to Atlanta shortly after 8 a.m. to meet with Emergency Management officials from Fulton County. They will determine where the tornado touched down as well as the width and length of the path and how strong it was.

Rothfuse said information will be released at a news conference in the city — probably early afternoon.

This morning's storm system came through with little power, Rothfuse said. "We got some hail in this system, but nothing big."

The NWS is now watching a storm system currently in north Mississippi. It should arrive in the metro area at about 3 p.m.

The storm hit fast and furious — and with little warning.

Shortly before 10 p.m., winds whirled through downtown Atlanta, taking aim at CNN Center, the Omni Hotel and the Georgia Dome, which was packed with thousands of Southeastern Conference basketball fans.

Hours later, at a 1:30 a.m. news conference at a fire station on Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin reported what weather officials had not yet done: that the damage was caused by a tornado.

"It's pretty major," Franklin said, flanked by fire, police and city officials. "... Most of us did not get any warnings in advance that this storm was brewing."

Another Franklin news conference has been scheduled for noon.

The bulk of the storm's wrath fell on the core of the city.

Sections of the Georgia Dome's roof were ripped off, forcing officials to move the four remaining games in the SEC men's basketball tournament — three on Saturday and one on Sunday — to Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Ticket holders will not be allowed in the arena, which seats just over 9,000.

Access to the remaining games of the tournament will be limited to athletes' family members, cheerleaders, bands and other credentialed individuals, the SEC announced.

Officials from the SEC, the schools remaining in the tourney and the Dome deliberated from midnight to roughly 4 a.m. Saturday before announcing a new schedule and ticket policy. Alexander seats 9,191 fans, much fewer than the 25,000 the Dome holds. Admission will be limited to players' families and anyone holding a working credential for the remaining games.

During the brief storm, a vacant two-story commercial building across from Centennial Olympic Park came down.

Two of the park's gigantic Olympic torches toppled over.

Massive pieces of metal siding peeled off a Marietta Street parking garage and wrapped around poles or clogged sidewalks and streets.

"I have not seen anything like this before," Atlanta fire Battalion Chief Gerry Rusinski said. "It looked like 9-11 when we pulled up."

Somehow, injuries seemed to be few and far between.

Four area hospitals, including Grady and Atlanta Medical Center, reported taking in 16 patients from the storm — most with minor injuries, though one reportedly in critical condition.

But there was concern about whether anyone was inside a four- or five-story building at the Stacks Lofts in Cabbagetown, where large chunks of four floors collapsed on top of each other like a pancake. Fire officials did not know whether anyone was inside the section that collapsed.

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This type of thing is a part of my job so I was up late last night. Fortunately though it doesn't appear that anyone was really seriously injured and all the people from the apartment building that collapsed are accounted for.

Now let's hope we don't have any more excitement with the storms that are approaching today. :paranoid:

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