ATLANTA — Ten years ago on March 2, 2012, 81 tornadoes touched down across 11 states in the southeast to the Ohio Valley. Across North Georgia, widespread strong and severe thunderstorms produced large hail, flooding and damaging winds that Friday evening.
Two tornadoes touched down in the Peach State, including one long-track tornado that was on the ground for 29 miles in Haralson and Paulding counties.
The tornado first touched down shortly after 8 p.m. in Haralson county along Bethlehem Church Road in Buchanan and quickly strengthened. Winds were estimated at 165 miles per hour where a home was destroyed, as shown in the below photo. The resident taking shelter was injured but survived thanks to the protection of his basement. His two dogs did not survive.
The storm continued east across the county, damaging trees, power lines and other buildings on its path. It even took a mobile home off its foundation and tore of the steeple from the roof of a church.
The tornado then entered Paulding County near Yorkville just before 8:30 p.m. Numerous roads across the county were closed due to debris. The tornado overturned an RV and impaled a box truck with a 2-by-4. The most significant damage was to Paulding County Regional Airport. Several planes were flipped over and a jet hanger was destroyed. Over 80% of the planes at the airport were totaled. The tornado also damaged the airport terminal. Winds were estimated around 135 miles per hour at the airport, a high end EF-2.
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At least 40 homes were damaged and hundreds of trees were uprooted and snapped throughout Paulding County.
Paulding County's Poole Elementary also sustained damage. The roof was blown off and at least one of the walls was blown out as well. Classrooms and safe learning locations, were instantly littered with tornado debris and supplies were gone.
Luckily, the tornado hit late in the evening and schools had been let out for several hours already that day. The community rallied, and held a donation drive to replenish classroom materials for the school. 11Alive's Bill Liss covered the donation drive with the station's "Help Desk." Volunteers came together to help rebuild the school.
The tornado finally lifted just before 9 p.m. near McClure Trail and McClure Drive.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported that in Paulding County, 92 homes sustained minor damage, 58 sustained moderate damage, and 10 were destroyed. The total damage was estimated over $11 million.
After the tornado lifted, the supercell thunderstorm cycled and later dropped another tornado in Cobb County. This tornado was rated EF-1 with estimated max winds of 100 miles per hour about 25 minutes after the Paulding County twister. It was only on the ground for about a mile along Roswell Road between East Cobb Park and Indian Ridge Subdivision. There was roof damage to homes and a daycare, as well as many trees damaged.