Tornado hits Atlanta, Georgia Dome during SEC Tournament

3/15/08 in NCAABB   |   Jon   |   5 respect

A tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta tonight, causing heavy damage to many buildings, including the Georgia Dome, where Alabama was taking on Mississippi State.

As the game was getting exciting going into overtime, high winds hit the building, causing damage to the roof. The game was stopped as the building started to shake and debris fell.

However, the damage at the Georgia Dome was nothing compared to what is apparently occurring in other areas around Atlanta. The Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts apartment building has collapsed due to the storm, and rescue efforts are underway, though officials say it could take the whole weekend to get through the building. Hopefully everyone somehow makes it out okay. Atlanta-based CNN has full coverage (their headquarters also sustained damage).

Spencer Hall of the Sporting News was there at the Georgia Dome and has some pretty amazing pictures from the aftermath.

The rest of the Bama/Mississippi State game was postponed for an hour and then quickly completed, as was the Kentucky vs. Georgia game which was scheduled to take place afterward. SEC officials are still deciding on how to best complete the two games. Playing games at Georgia Tech is a possible option, though Billy Gillispie is against potentially playing 2 games in one day.

The NCAA is monitoring the situation, as bracket announcements could be delayed if the SEC tournament is not finished by the time the selection show is set to begin on Sunday. Of course, that seems trivial given the damage and injuries around the city of Atlanta.

We'll have more tomorrow as more information becomes available.

Edit: Here is video from the live Raycom feed of the Alabama/Mississippi State game - listen as the announcers describe what is going on as the tornado hits the dome.

SEC tournament delayed as Georgia Dome sustains damage (ESPN)
Game Interrupted By 'Hailnado' at SEC Tournament (The Sporting News)
Photo Essay: Weather Cancels SEC Nightcap (The Sporting News)
Rescuers search for Atlanta tornado victims (CNN)
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3/15/08   |   Chief_aka_James   |   3307 respect

I live near the Georgia Tech campus, and luckily for me, along with the 15-20,000 students around here, all we had was hard rain and mild to strong winds. Minimal damages reported.

However, in the Midtown/Downtown areas, they got hit, hard. I was actually going through the area probably 30 minutes beforehand coming from class, and it was just a lot of lightening and thunder; no rain, but you could just see the first storm brewing. Once I got home, obviously local news was already focused on two main storm systems, and a good 10 min later, the strong winds/hailnado or whatever you want to call it hit at Phillips Arena and the Dome.

Scary/Busy night; when the only thing on National news is "Large Storms through Downtown Atlanta", families we're calling often...

A lot of damages to buildings, as you described, but thankfully, not too many injuries have come around.