Recalling the three-pointer that saved thousands of fans from facing a tornado

Recalling the three-pointer that saved thousands of fans from facing a tornado

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


Between March 14-15, 2008, 45 tornadoes hit the southeastern United States. The 24-hour and seven-minute event is called "The 2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak."

On Friday, March 14, an EF-2 (the Enhanced Fujita scale) tornado travelled 9.7 km across downtown Atlanta.

The twister created turmoil along its path, damaging buildings including the CNN Center, the Georgia World Congress Center, the Philips Arena, Grady Hospital, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Martin Luther King Center, Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, The Ritz Carlton, over 50 homes and more.

Across the road from the CNN Center was the Georgia Dome. The dome was hosting a Southeastern Conference tournament game between Mississippi State and Alabama.

The game was being broadcast live on television as Mykal Riley, an Alabama player, hit a game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation. A few minutes later, in overtime, a tornado hit the dome.

The thousands of fans at the game would have been making their way home if Riley didn't send that game into overtime.

The tornado ripped panels from the building and tore holes in the dome. Insulation fell and the suspended equipment, like the scoreboard and catwalks, started to sway.

The game was delayed 64 minutes and then completed. The subsequent games were played at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the campus of Georgia Tech.

dome tornado
dome tornado

Tornado damage on Marietta Street in front of CNN Center / Omni Hotel. Courtesy of Scott/Wikipedia/CC BY 2.0

There was also an NBA game at the Philips Arena between the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers. There was damage right outside the arena, but the attendees didn't really notice.

To learn more about The 2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak, listen to today's episode "This Day In Weather History."

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Thumbnail: "Tornado damage on Marietta Street in front of CNN Center/Omni Hotel." Courtesy of Scott/Wikipedia/CC BY 2.0