Tornado Hits Ga. Dome, Postpones SEC Tourney

If you were waiting to see the result of the meeting between Kentucky and Georgia last night in the SEC men’s basketball tournament, keep waiting.

Kentucky Basketball Tornado City

The Georgia Dome, the building hosting the SEC tournament, was hit by something that meteorologists were reluctant to officially call a tornado. But if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and tears a big hole in your roof…


“I thought it was a tornado or a terrorist attack,” said Mississippi State guard Ben Hansbrough, who was guarding Alabama’s Mykal Riley when rumbling began above their heads.

AJC.COM reported various property damage throughout the Atlanta area, but injuries were scarce.

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.’

The tornado led to evacuations of both the Georgia Dome and nearby Phillips Arena, where the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks were playing.

John Hisey, 49, of Marietta, was at the Hawks game when the storm touched down.

“I heard a noise — it sounded like a big rumble,” he said. “I looked up, and the wall was just flexing.”

As for the basketball game in question, it’s been rescheduled for noon ET today, and the winner of that game has the unfortunate honor of playing Mississippi State about 6 hours later, at 8:30 p.m. ET. Factoring into the decision to screw either Kentucky or Georgia, according to ESPN.COM, was the risk of losing the SEC’s automatic bid for the NCAA tournament.

[SEC director of communications, DeWayne] Peevy said since the league reaffirmed that the automatic qualifier from the SEC comes from the conference tournament then the games have to be played prior to the announcement of the selections on Sunday. [The SEC was told] that if it wants to preserve its automatic qualifier among the 31 AQs that are awarded for the field of 65 then the tournament must be completed.

No deaths resulting from the tornado have been reported.