Metro Atlanta was still recovering late Friday from Thursday night’s severe weather that included a pair of tornadoes.
The two EF-1 category tornadoes brought winds of up to 110 mph to Cherokee, Cobb and Fulton counties, tearing down power lines, uprooting trees and damaging buildings in their wake, the National Weather Service said. However, no serious injuries were reported.
Early morning commuters Friday found trees still blocking roads in many areas, especially in the hard-hit Sandy Springs and Dunwoody areas, and power out to nearly 100,000 Georgia Power customers. That number had dropped to 44,000 statewide by 5:15 p.m.
More than 42 roads were closed in Sandy Springs at one point Friday. By the end of the day, only one closure remained in place — Lake Forrest Drive between Lake Summit and Chevaux Court — with plans for repairs being held off until the next City Council meeting Tuesday, city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said.
» MAP: Track the damage
In Brookhaven, Channel 2 Action News reported, a tree leaning on power lines near Oglethorpe University led police to shut down Peachtree Road in both directions as the afternoon rush hour began.
Georgia Perimeter College’s Dunwoody campus will remain closed through the weekend because of power outages and fallen trees. Kennesaw State University’s campus kept buildings closed Friday.
The weather service said the first tornado, with peak winds of 105 mph, first touched down at 7 p.m. near the intersection of Patriot Trail and Rampley Trail, 4 miles west-northwest of Canton.
The tornado, with maximum width of 75 yards, lifted about 25 minutes later near the intersection of Hickory Road and New Light Road, about 5 miles south-southeast of Canton.
The second tornado made landfall near the Cherokee County line along Woodhaven Drive around 7:30 p.m. and made its way southeast through Cobb County, wreaking havoc near Bishop Lake Road and Wendwood Drive, before jumping the Chattahoochee River near Abernathy Road and Riverside Drive in Sandy Springs, meteorologists said.
One of the many Sandy Springs businesses without power in the wake of the storm was the Dunkin’ Donuts in the 8200 block of Roswell Road. Franchisee Stephen Attard said he had been given no estimate on when electricity would be restored.
“We’re going to wait with a full staff until at least 11 o’clock,” he said.
While there was no evidence of tornadoes in Gwinnett County, powerful winds still made a mess of things in the southern part of the county near Doraville.
Thursday night’s storm uprooted Hulon Garmon’s 60-foot, 160-year-old red oak and dropped it across Cedar Street and Oak Road near Doraville.
Twenty-five feet south of the toppled oak, Garmon’s home was unscathed.
“It could’ve leveled the whole front of the house,” he said, gesturing at the home’s facade. “I thank God that it fell the way that it did and nobody got hurt.”
The storm hit the neighborhood, just east of Buford Highway and about a mile north of the Gwinnett-DeKalb county line, around 8 p.m.
“The carport was coming off the ground,” said Garmon’s daughter, LaDonna Cooper. “All of a sudden there was a ‘boom’ that sounded like a bomb. We looked outside and the tree was gone.”
“These streets have tree names. … They sure earned it today,” neighbor Merritt Sheal said as he surveyed ankle-high electrical wires and yellow police caution tape strewn across Cedar and Bruce streets and Oak Road.
The giant oak crashed through power lines on its way down, yanking down a street light and a transformer and knocking out electrical service on Oak Road.
“I heard it pop, then the lights went out,” Jim Cauley said.
He and his wife, Mary, sat on their enclosed front porch Friday, enjoying the calm after Thursday night’s tumult as they ate a late breakfast.
Out on the street, a burning smell emanated from around the downed power lines, long after Georgia Power officials said electricity had been cut for safety.
“We were scared to death,” said Mary Cauley, who has lived at the Oak Road home with her husband for nearly 60 years. “This is the first time we’ve seen anything like this.”
A Georgia Power crew arrived at Oak Road just before noon to assess the damage and begin clean-up.
Gwinnett fire Lt. Colin Rhoden said crews responded to 65 calls during or after the storms, which moved through the area between 8 and 10 p.m. Five of those calls involved trees on buildings, but no serious injuries were reported.
Weather service meteorologist Laura Belanger said this is the first June since 1999 that tornadoes have been reported in metro Atlanta.
Staff photographer John Spink contributed to this article.
Cherokee County tornado
Estimated peak wind: 105 mph
Path length /statute: 8.5 miles
Path width /maximum: 75 yards
Start time: 7 p.m.
Start location: 4 miles WNW Canton
End time: Around 7:25 p.m.
End location: 5 miles SSE Canton
Cherokee, Cobb, Fulton tornado
Estimated peak wind: 110 mph
Path length /statute: To be determined
Path width /maximum: To be determined
Start time: 7:30 p.m.
Start location: 2 miles south of Woodstock
End time: 7:43 p.m.
End location: Sandy Springs
The enhanced Fujita Scale classifies tornadoes into the following categories:
EF0 …WEAK … 65 TO 85 MPH
EF1 …WEAK … 86 TO 110 MPH
EF2 …STRONG … 111 TO 135 MPH
EF3 …STRONG … 136 TO 165 MPH
EF4 …VIOLENT …. 166 TO 200MPH
EF5 …VIOLENT … >200MPH
Source: National Weather Service