Rockin' The Georgia Dome

Tornado causes damage at Georgia Dome, postpones the last quarterfinal of the night and has Saturday's schedule up in the air

ATLANTA — The Georgia Dome roof rippled Friday night, slowly at first and then with increasing intensity. Lights, speakers and the massive mid-court scoreboard started to sway. An eerie noise filled the air, a noise that confused Arkansas assistant basketball coach Isaac Brown. Debris started to blow into the dome. And eventually, chaos ensued.

Around 9:45 p.m. local time, a possible tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta, and in the moments during and after, Brown didn't know what to do. He just became another scared, frantic person inside probably the safest place to be in downtown Atlanta.

"I was looking to my right, and I saw the roof was mashing in and mashing out," Brown said. "So me not being from Georgia, I thought it was like a train had derailed over the dome or something. People took off running, and when I saw that, I did, too. I was like the first one to run.

"I was trying to get outside. And then I called Coach (John) Pelphrey, and I was like, ‘The building's caving in.' And he was like, ‘No, it's a tornado, don't go outside."

As for the game that was taking place, no official whistle stopped play. With 2:11 showing on the clock in overtime, players and coaches for Mississippi State and Alabama didn't wait to hear from referees that the game would be delayed. They took off running for their locker rooms.

About an hour later, the game resumed, and Mississippi State held on for a 69-67 victory.

Outside the Georgia Dome, things weren't exactly back to normal, though. Several parts of the dome were damaged, including parts of the roof and the upper exterior of the building.

There was substantial damage done to the World Congress Center, which is adjacent to the Georgia Dome, and there were also reports of damage in other parts of downtown Atlanta.

Dean Parker, a friend of Pelphrey's from Mobile, Ala., recognized the noise engulfing the inside of the dome immediately. Sounded just like a hurricane, he thought.

"Being from Mobile, John and I went through two hurricanes coming through, putting wood and everything up," Parker said. "The first thing I thought is, there's a hurricane or a tornado coming through here. We were sitting in section 107 or 108, and we just got up and looked around and thought this wasn't good. The biggest thing was you could see the roof rippling and you could see the big screen swaying because of the wind."


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