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2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak

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2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak

2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak
Tornado (shadow at left), after going through downtown Atlanta
Type Tornado outbreak
Duration March 14–15, 2008
Tornadoes confirmed 45 confirmed
Max rating1 EF3 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak2 21 hours, 50 minutes
Damage >$250 million

1Most severe tornado damage; see Enhanced Fujita scale

2Time from first tornado to last tornado

The 2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak was a tornado outbreak that affected the Southeastern United States on March 14–15, 2008.

A tornado caused widespread damage across Oakland Cemetery were also damaged.[1] One man was killed near downtown Atlanta and 30 others were injured.[2] Two other deaths took place on March 15 in the northern Atlanta suburbs from the second, larger round of severe weather and tornadoes. In total, 45 tornadoes were confirmed over the 24-hour period from eastern Alabama to the Carolina coast, with most of the activity concentrated in the Metropolitan Atlanta area, the Central Savannah River Area and the Midlands of South Carolina.

Meteorological synopsis

Atlanta tornado event

Street level tornado track map of the Atlanta tornado (NWS Peachtree City, Georgia)
Damage near Centennial Park.

In their 9:00 pm EDT outlook, the [3] A tornado warning was issued for Atlanta at 9:26 pm when the thunderstorm that caused the tornado was 6 miles (10 km) to the northwest of the downtown area, although no watches were in effect for the area due to the low probability and unusual isolated nature. The tornado drifted southward as it moved eastward, whereas most tornadic storms have a strong northward component along (or ahead of) a cold front. It also was unusual because it was not associated with such a squall line at all, but was an independent supercell drifting well ahead of the main storm system.

March 15 tornado event

Another tornado outbreak struck the southeast the following day. A moderate risk for severe storms was issued early in the morning, and maintained through the afternoon.[4] However, by mid afternoon, areas of east-central Georgia and central South Carolina were upgraded to a high risk of severe storms due to the tornado threat.[5][6]

Confirmed tornadoes

Confirmed tornadoes by Enhanced Fujita rating
EF0 EF1 EF2 EF3 EF4 EF5 Total
14 19 9 3 0 0 45

March 14 event

List of reported tornadoes - Friday, March 14, 2008
Time (UTC)
Path length
EF2 Atlanta DeKalb 0140 6 miles (9.7 km) 1 death - See section on this tornado

Storm reports of March 14, 2008

March 15 event

List of reported tornadoes - Saturday, March 15, 2008
Time (UTC)
Path length
EF2 SE of Oneonta Blount 1450 6 miles (9.7 km) 25 houses sustained major damage and many others had minor damage. One mobile home and many farm buildings and outbuildings were destroyed, killing many animals.
EF2 NE of Pleasant Gap Cherokee 1600 3 miles (4.8 km) Major damage to a roof of a house and a barn, as well as snapped pine trees.
EF3 Aragon area Bartow 1625 16 miles (26 km) 2 deaths - Large wedge tornado destroyed at least 20 houses and damaged hundreds of others. Thousands of trees were knocked down across three counties. Two others were injured.[7]
EF0 Franklin Springs area Hart 1844 3 miles (4.8 km) Tornado confirmed with widespread damage to trees and power lines. Major damage to a couple of houses and cattle barns.
EF1 NE of Gill Lincoln, McCormick (SC) 2015 16 miles (26 km) Many trees were knocked down.
EF2 SE of Fortsonia Elbert 2019 7.3 miles (11.7 km) Damage reported to several structures, including a roof blown off a house and a boat dock thrown in the air in Bobby Brown State Park.
EF1 N of Winfield Columbia 2148 8 miles (13 km) One mobile home was destroyed and several others damaged. Many trees were knocked down. Two people were injured.
EF0 W of Jackson Butts 2215 3.25 miles (5 km) A barn was destroyed and numerous trees were knocked down.
EF2 Matthews area Burke 2215 19 miles (31 km) Several mobile homes were destroyed and numerous houses were damaged, some by fallen trees.
EF1 SE of Waynesboro Burke 2305 15 miles (24 km) One house sustained moderate damage to the roof, windows and shingles. Several mobile homes were damaged.
EF2 NE of Springfield Effingham 0134 2.5 miles (4.0 km) Over 40 houses were damaged, and three mobile homes and many outbuildings, barns and sheds were destroyed. Power transmission towers were also knocked down. Six people were injured, both in vehicles and mobile homes.
EF2 NE of Rincon Effingham 0144 0.5 miles (800 m) Tornado impacted the McIntosh Plant of Georgia Power, where several buildings were destroyed.
South Carolina
EF0 Due West Abbeville 1950 1 mile (1.6 km) Tornado reported by a local sheriff with trees damaged.
EF0 N of Bucklick Fairfield, Kershaw 2010 25 miles (40 km) Long track tornado with tree damage.
EF3 Prosperity area Newberry, Richland 2025 28 miles (45 km) Many houses sustained major damage and mobile homes were destroyed. Two people were injured.
EF1 Lugoff area (1st tornado) Kershaw 2030 23 miles (37 km) Numerous houses and mobile homes damaged and trees down.
EF0 SE of Angelus Chesterfield 2047 7 miles (11 km) Long track tornado with tree damage.
EF1 McCormick area McCormick, Edgefield 2102 24 miles (39 km) Long track tornado with intermittent light to moderate damage, affecting numerous houses and mobile homes.
EF2 Elgin area Kershaw 2122 7 miles (11 km) Large wedge tornado tore through town damaging many houses and destroying four mobile homes. Two people were injured.
EF1 SW of Ward Saluda 2124 3 miles (4.8 km) Major damage to one house and many trees knocked down.
EF0 Lugoff area (2nd tornado) Kershaw 2133 1 mile (1.6 km) Brief tornado touchdown.
EF0 SE of Monetta Aiken 2137 1 mile (1.6 km) Brief tornado touchdown knocked down trees.
EF1 Pelion area Lexington 2141 8 miles (13 km) One mobile home was heavily damaged and farm equipment was damaged.
EF1 E of Sharp Richland 2143 4 miles (6.4 km) Significant damage in the Lake Carolina area with homes damaged and trees knocked down, especially near Columbia Country Club.
EF0 Latta Dillon 2148 1.2 miles (1.9 km) Minor damage to seven houses, some of which was caused by fallen trees.
EF1 N of Wolfton Orangeburg, Calhoun 2205 21 miles (34 km) Several houses and barns were damaged and outbuildings were destroyed. Tree damage reported in the area.
EF0 N of Pleasant Lane Edgefield 2211 4 miles (6.4 km) Trees down in a heavily forested area.
EF2 Clearwater area Aiken 2218 25 miles (40 km) Large wedge tornado up to 1 mile (1.6 km) wide destroyed a water tower and heavily damaged many houses.
EF1 S of Florence Florence 2225 14 miles (23 km) Over 80 houses were damaged and about 10 trailers were rolled. At least 16 were also impacted. Three people suffered minor injuries and two livestock were killed.
EF0 W of Williston Barnwell 2247 unknown Brief tornado touchdown with no damage.
EF1 S of Ashwood Lee 2252 14 miles (23 km) Several houses, mobile homes and a church were damaged.
EF0 E of Elko Barnwell 2254 unknown Brief tornado touchdown with no damage.
EF0 S of Manning Clarendon 2302 8 miles (13 km) Tornado tracked along the north shore of Lake Marion. Minor damage to several houses.
EF1 SE of Denmark Bamberg 2305 2 miles (3.2 km) Several houses sustained moderate damage, and power poles were knocked down.
EF0 Aynor Horry 2313 0.25 miles (400 m) A mobile home and a car port were destroyed, which also damaged trees and power lines.
EF1 S of Greeleyville Williamsburg 2317 1.5 miles (2.4 km) One house was damaged and a church steeple was toppled. Extensive tree damage.
EF3 Branchville area Bamberg, Orangeburg 2325 14 miles (23 km) Widespread damage in the area from a large wedge tornado with 17 houses damaged or destroyed. Many downtown buildings and a fire station were also damaged or destroyed in Branchville.
EF1 Trio Williamsburg 2336 3 miles (4.8 km) A total of 35 houses were damaged, of which one was destroyed.
EF1 SW of Oakland Georgetown 2354 20 yards (20 m) Very brief tornado blew a few trees onto a house.
EF1 N of Ridgeville Dorchester 0008 2.2 miles (3.5 km) Rope tornado with metal panels removed from a gas station canopy. Two mobile homes were also heavily damaged.
EF1 Strawberry Berkeley 0025 0.6 miles (970 m) Heavy damage to a mobile home park with 14 mobile homes impacted. Seven people were injured.
EF1 N of Charity Berkeley 0036 1.2 miles (1.9 km) Roofs were damaged on a church and a house. Many trees were knocked down.
North Carolina
EF0 Fair Bluff Columbus 2210 30 yards (27 m) Very short-lived tornado damaging a few trees amidst straight-line wind damage.
EF1 Hampstead Pender 2356 2 miles (3.2 km) Several houses and businesses were damaged in the area.

Storm reports of March 15, 2008, NWS Birmingham, NWS Wilmington, NWS Peachtree City, NWS Greenville, NWS Columbia, NWS Charleston

Atlanta tornado

Philips Arena parking garage were damaged while hosting basketball games.[8] Two of the giant columns in Centennial Olympic Park were knocked down, and bits of insulation were stuck in trees.[9] Trees on some other streets, where more closely built skyscrapers cause a greater wind tunnel effect, were knocked completely down, despite being too early in spring to involve leaf drag. Glass was strewn across several streets, and Atlanta Police kept residents, hotel guests, and news crews away from buildings with loose glass, which continued to pose a danger into the night.[8] Cars in the area also had windows blown out, and hotel and office furniture was found scattered about.

Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel tornado damage; the other side of the building had even worse damage
Damage from inside the top of the Westin Peachtree, not easily visible from the ground

The historic Rialto Theatre at GSU also sustained roof damage, which in turn caused water damage inside.

Further east, Grady Hospital reported some damage to windows and a brief power outage. Many of the injured were taken there, and some walked there and were treated in the emergency room for cuts due to glass. The King Memorial MARTA station was damaged and was being bypassed by trains, with buses rerouted to the next station on each side. Oakland Cemetery suffered major damage to monuments and to its huge oaks and magnolias, and the caretaker found window blinds around the neck of a statue of a Civil War veteran buried there.

A 100-year-old Water oak tree crushes a GMC van in the North Ormewood Park neighborhood.
Tree uprooted in the Cabbagetown neighborhood, taking most of the yard with it.

In the nearby Cabbagetown area, a brick loft building (well known for the fire that occurred there in 1999, during its renovation from the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills, in which the crane operator was rescued by helicopter during live TV news coverage) lost part of its roof, and part of the top (fifth) floor. Another building at The Stacks on Boulevard partially collapsed; search and rescue personnel were unable to enter, but everyone was accounted for by the management within a few hours.[10]

When the tornado hit, a [12] At the nearby Philips Arena, little disruption was noticed by the attendees during the game between the Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers, even though damage occurred to the outside of the arena.[13]

Twenty-seven people were treated for injuries.[13] In addition, over 20 homes were completely destroyed.[14]

Tornado damage on Marietta Street in front of CNN Center / Omni Hotel

All of CNN's TV networks remained on the air, but there was damage to the glass roof of the CNN Center atrium, flooding part of the food court. Additionally, blown-out windows in the ground floor newsroom and the fourth floor videotape library caused minor damage. Live news coverage of the aftermath was carried on CNN International, in turn simulcast domestically on CNN until 1 am EDT.[15] CNN resumed broadcasting from their main newsroom at 6 am EDT, showing several parts of the newsroom with computer stations covered with tarps, the damaged atrium of CNN Center, and staff using trash cans and buckets to collect dripping rainwater to the right of the anchor desk due to the damaged roof. When more storms moved in later in the day, the network was forced to move all Atlanta on-camera operations to the windowless CNN-I studio, while taped programming was shown for most of the day.[16]

The city received emergency assistance from the DeKalb counties (where Atlanta is situated), and surrounding cities and counties. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin also declared a state of emergency for the city [17] and Governor Sonny Perdue issued a state state of emergency declaration [18] for Atlanta enabling the city to seek disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). President Bush declared a major disaster on March 20.[19]

The Atlanta tornado severely damaged this Loft building on March 14, 2008

In raw U.S. dollars, it was the most expensive tornado in American history after the 1999 Oklahoma City tornado, costing a half-billion dollars.[20] When adjusted for inflation, it ranks ninth.[21]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Tornado takes 'Mrs. Bonnie,' animal lover - CNN March 16, 2008
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ TVNEWSER - CNN & The F2 Tornado
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ FEMA: Georgia Severe Storms and Tornadoes
  20. ^
  21. ^$.htm

External links

  • Possible Tornado Sweeps Through Atlanta - CNN Breaking News Transcript - March 14, 2008
  • WSB's coverage of the tornado
  • WXIA's coverage of the tornado
  • WAGA's coverage of the tornado
  • WGCL's coverage of the tornado
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