Metro Atlanta braces for more severe storms after 1 killed in Douglasville tornado

Firefighters on Guilford Forest Drive survey the damage after a severe storm swept through the city Monday morning.
Firefighters on Guilford Forest Drive survey the damage after a severe storm swept through the city Monday morning.

Credit: John Spink

Credit: John Spink

EF-1 with 90-mph winds caused tree to fall, killing restaurant owner

Some people reported hearing what sounded like a train. Others watched helplessly as trees twisted and snapped.

A combination of strong winds and heavy downpours toppled trees and power lines across metro Atlanta on Monday, killing a man who was crushed inside his vehicle.

During a brief afternoon break in the storms, the National Weather Service determined a tornado hit Douglas County. Investigators believe one may also have touched down in southern Fulton County.

ExploreConfirmed EF-1 tornado hit Douglas, killing man inside car

Across the metro area, both businesses and homes were damaged by storm debris. Flooded roads also made driving treacherous and left thousands without electricity.

But before all of the damage could be assessed, weather forecasters had an ominous warning: More storms are likely.

“This time of year, we should be winding down tornado season,” Channel 2 Action News chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said.

Sherell Lewis used a blue tarp to stop water from entering his house after a tree caused damage to the master bathroom in his southwest Atlanta neighborhood Monday.
Sherell Lewis used a blue tarp to stop water from entering his house after a tree caused damage to the master bathroom in his southwest Atlanta neighborhood Monday.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Typically, tornado-like weather is a hallmark of early spring, but Monday’s storms were an exception, Burns said. More storms and the risk for severe thunderstorms are expected Tuesday, he said.

As much as 4 inches of rain fell across the area in just a few hours Monday. And since trees are already saturated, additional rain could be dangerous, Burns said.

“It’s not going to take much wind to bring down trees and power lines,” he said.

On Monday, the Weather Service confirmed it was an EF-1 tornado with 90-mph winds and a path 250 yards wide and 1.5 miles long that hit Douglas County. Investigators believe a tornado may also have touched down in southern Fulton, where several businesses and vehicles were heavily damaged along Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

It was the second time in less than six weeks that a tornado hit the metro Atlanta area. On March 25, an EF-4 with 170-mph winds hit Coweta County, where one man was killed. More than 1,700 homes were damaged in those storms.

Monday’s weather was blamed for one death in Douglasville, where a tree fell and crushed a man inside his car on Campbellton Street. Firefighters arrived about 10:35 a.m. at the scene, which was near Woodrow Avenue and Spring Street, according to a county spokesman.

“When firefighters arrived at the scene, they discovered the driver was trapped inside the vehicle with power lines and a tree on the vehicle,” Douglas County Communications Director Rick Martin said. “Firefighters had to extricate the driver who we are only identifying as a male at this time until next of kin are notified.”

Later Monday, friends identified the man as Scot Hudson, the owner of Hudson’s Hickory House in Douglasville, Channel 2 reported.

In addition to Douglas County, neighboring Fulton also took the brunt of the storm damage, including along Fulton Industrial Boulevard to Camp Creek Parkway. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said her southwest Atlanta neighborhood was also hit hard.

“Neighbors have said they heard the freight train sound and at least one neighbor said he saw it come through his yard,” Bottoms told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And the path that went through his yard is where I’m seeing the damage on my street.”

Outside her home, Bottoms looked at the damage and later posted pictures of the storm debris, including numerous downed trees.

“By the grace of God, nobody was injured and that’s what’s most important,” she said.

By late Monday afternoon, the concerns turned to areas of flooding on metro interstates and roadways.

Tuesday’s storms are expected to hit the area by late morning, according to Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz. Another round could roll in later in the day, he said.

Although the highest risk is on the Westside of Atlanta, there is a potential for strong winds, isolated tornadoes, heavy rain and hail throughout the metro area, Nitz said. Sunshine is expected to return Wednesday afternoon.

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