From: Northwestern Georgia, USA
Me and my two teenaged sons were in a building hit by a strong tornado this morning. This is not a common occurrence - I've never before seen a tornado - so I thought I'd write a brief description.
Me and the boys were at Owens BBQ in Adairsville, Georgia, late this morning when a strong tornado hit. We didn’t have any warning. We didn’t even know we were under a tornado warning (when I had left my office an hour earlier, we were under a watch and radar showed a squall line still in Alabama, so nothing seemed imminent).
We had just finished our meal and were prepaing to walk out the door when heavy rains and high winds hit. I'm used to that since bad thunderstorms are common here and since I experienced several weak hurricanes while growing up in Miami. The two employees began screaming that it was a tornado. One lady couldn't get the door, which had been propped open, closed. My 18-year-old son went to help her. I walked to the window to see what was going on.
At that moment the tornado hit and the building began coming apart. The boys and two employees went into the bathroom. I was at the other side of the room and dove under a heavy duty table. All of this happened in a matter of a second or two. As the building was coming apart – windows blowing in and out, doors blown off hinges and into the room, trees crashing down, the roof coming off, etc. – I momentarily thought, "This building is about to come apart and we may not live through this." Just as I finished that thought the intensity of the storm began to abate just a bit so that it seemed like, "Well, we might make it after all." Then it became clear that the tornado had passed. Things began to settle down. I found the boys and the two employees and all were fine (John had one small cut, I have three – all of them so small not even a band aid is needed). The two employees (ladies) were hysterical.
Me and my boys walked outside to find utter and complete devastation. A house to one side of Owens is completely gone. Nothing left. A brick store on the other side completely gone. Nothing left. A huge, modern industrial building out the front door (on the other side of the highway) had one end completely demolished. A water main had broken and a geyser was shooting 50 fit high. Dozens of cars and a number of semis were upside down in the highway and in adjacent parking lots. The employee'ss car was blow away – she don’t know where it is. One side of my truck is damaged, but only cosmetically - not bad enough to justify repairs given its age. Owens probably won’t be rebuilt – the damage is pretty extensive, but nothing compared to all the buildings on every side.
Owens sits on top of a small hill and still stands despite extensive damage. All around though is complete devastation. Trees and power lines and wood and debris all over the place. We searched through the demolished house, but learned that those people were fine – they had gone to their storm cellar just before the storm hit.
It took us two hours to get home (our community, twenty miles west, was untouched). All the highways were closed because of trees and other stuff blocking the lanes. Emergency vehicles were everywhere.
Given the extent of the damage, I think this was an F3 or F4 tornado. We were in the heart of it. As I looked out the window, just before it hit, the rain was blowing sideways; then I noticed it was blowing circularly; then I saw trees and parts of houses and other stuff circling in the wind. It was crazy.
Edited to add: After reading the Fujita scale, I would say this was an F2 or possibly F3 tornado.
< Message edited by Canoerebel -- 1/30/2013 8:50:45 PM >