Sunday, March 16, 2008

Atlanta, Kansas?

EDIT: Ok, so I thought I was being funny, but apparently there really is an Atlanta, Kansas. So much for my jokes.

I have no idea how people in Kansas (or wherever tornadoes are relatively frequent) deal with them. Friday seemed like a regular day. It was somewhat rainy during the day, but it stopped before the work day ended. Headed over to sweetwater for after-work beer. Mmmmmm, beer!!! My friend, Scott, was supposed to be flying up from Pensacola later Friday night, but they told him no flights were going into Atlanta. I thought this was weird because at about 6:30 it was pretty much clear and sunny. After sweetwater, we went back to my friend Matt's house, to watch a Thrashers game (on TV - it was a road game). Just after the game, about 9:30, some storms picked up and just standing by a window at Matt's house, we could tell it was getting ugly out. Still, didn't really think it was anything to worry about though. It started hailing and the rain got a lot heavier. A small river formed on part of the street in front of his house. Some of his neighbors had bagged a bunch of leaves, which started floating with the river. ALL of them stopped right at Matt's car! Eventually we turned the TV to a local station to see if there was anything we should know about going on. There sure was.

The SEC men's basketball tournament was going on at the Georgia Dome. Mykal Riley, (if you click that link, ESPN says he's 4 years old) hit a game tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation for Alabama. By doing so, he literally probably saved THOUSANDS of lives. If he missed that shot. thousands of fans would've been leaving the Georgia Dome. That would've been bad because with 2:11 left in overtime, a tornado hit downtown Atlanta (Georgia, not Kansas). It ripped right through the area where the most populated spot in Atlanta probably was at the moment: Georgia Dome, Philips Arena, CNN Center, Omni Hotel, Georgia World Congress Center, Centennial Olympic Park. There was also an Atlanta Hawks game going on, but as you can tell, nobody cares about the Hawks! (Ok, cheap shot, my bad). Last year I was actually at the SEC tournament, a former coworker of mine found out one of his old college friends works for the SEC and gave us VIP passes to the whole tournament! Couldn't pass that up! For this years tournament we tried to get tickets again, but it just didn't happen. And good thing!!!!

The next 2 hours or so we were glued to the TV, watching various local stations' coverage. They all had one thing in common. They're all TERRIBLE at covering stories like this. One station kept showing clips of the georgia dome where someone used a telestrator and drew something looking like a potato. Saw that at least 15 times and still have no clue what they were showing us. The reporters on the scene were annoying. For some reason they felt the need to interview a cab driver who we couldn't understand. In retrospect, I wish we turned on the closed captioning to see if it was just us. I doubt it. Eventually we couldn't take it anymore, we were hungry and decided to go out and get some food. The skies had cleared up, so it was safe to go out. Went out for some uneventful pizza. Didn't see any kind of damage anywhere. Went back to Matt's house afterwards and just watched more crappy news coverage in hopes of seeing some good footage of something. But there was nothing. I decided it probably wasn't a good idea to go anywhere, so I just crashed on Matt's couch. Which is pretty much my 2nd bed anyways.

Scott was supposed to be getting on a 6am flight out of Pensacola, so i was gonna have to wake up early to go pick him up. At about 5:30 I woke up to some LOUD thunder and lightning. I turned the TV on and here we go again. HUGE storms were coming through and there didn't look to be any end in sight. I sent Scott a text, telling him to keep an eye on the ATL weather, and I didn't think he'd be getting here anytime soon. I just told him to let me know if he actually boarded a plane anytime soon. I went back to sleep until I got a call from Scott. The weather had actually cleared up enough to get a flight in. Not only did he get on a flight, but the little bastard wound up getting sat in FIRST CLASS. And he wound up realizing he was sitting next to the aunt of one of his high school friends. Small world. So eventually Scott's flight (after circling Montgomery for a while) got in around 10:30 and we took a little tour of downtown. A lot of roads were closed, but it was still pretty unbelievable what we saw. Sooooo many buildings were missing random windows. Very bizarre. We came back to my neck of the woods, where luckily it seemed as if nothing even happened. More serious storms were supposed to be coming towards Atlanta around 1:30pm. We had some time, so we went and got some food. 1:30 came and went and all seemed well with the sky. Still, we went back to my place to see what was headed our way. One by one, it look almost like someone in Birmingham was spitting these storms out and right at Atlanta! I haven't ruled out a terrorist attack! Storms were coming, one right after the next, luckily they were all heading just north or just south of me. These were seriously powerful storms. We've all seen radars with green, sometimes red colors. I wonder how many times purple and black have shown up?? There were reports of hail over 4" wide. Grapefruit size. The local ABC affiliate had some pretty cool graphics where they showed these storms in 3D. They were also able to use something called a "BTI" (Baron Tornado Index). It's a scale from 0-10 that gauges the likelihood of a tornado. If the number is over 7, its pretty much a guarantee that a tornado has touched down. And the number was over 7 at least 5 times throughout the day. Pretty scary stuff. Luckily, for me, all this stuff managed to avoid my house. Hell, I didn't even get any rain! At one point a siren did go off, which was odd, I didn't even know we had a tornado siren! I guess that's good to know. It was LOUD. And last for a good bit. The dumbasses that me and Scott are, we ran outside to see if we could see anything. Nothing. Still sunny. Very odd. By about 4:45 most of the damage had been done and things were finally clearing up.

Just in time for us to get to the They Might Be Giants concert at the Variety Playhouse. They had a "family/children" show at 3pm. Apparently their stage manager had to tell the lead singer to play some more songs because they couldn't let people leave because of how bad it was outside. The "adult" show was at 6pm. Still early, but apparently the band had a couple thousand mile drive on Sunday. They still played for just over 2 hours. I tried yelling out that there were more tornadoes coming that they needed to play more, but they didn't get that message. Oh well.

I'm adding a bunch of pictures below, of which I took none of them. The 7th building, is from Scott's phone, I believe that is where my roommate works. Haven't gotten confirmation from her on that though. Pretty devastating stuff! (Sorry I have no idea how to keep these pictures somewhat organized, they like to spread out I guess)

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