Cobb County, metro Atlanta and most of north and central Georgia were hit with severe weather Wednesday as powerful thunderstorm systems moved quickly through a large portion of the state.
The Georgia State Patrol confirmed that a tornado touched down and significant damage was sustained in the Bartow community of Adairsville on Wednesday morning, and that traffic on Interstate 75 was shut down in both directions in that area.
Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in Bartow and Gordon County, where eight people were reported injured.
Cobb also was under a severe thunderstorm warning Wednesday afternoon and a tornado watch until early Wednesday evening.
The Cobb County School District dismissed classes according to schedule, but cancelled school-related extracurricular activities Wednesday.
Roads were hazardous with standing water, and accidents were reported throughout the metro area.
Several accidents on I-75 in Cobb jammed traffic by mid-afternoon Wednesday, according to WSB Radio: southbound near Wade Green Road; southbound near the North Marietta Parkway; and southbound near Canton Road, where injuries were reported.
Another injury crash was reported at Dallas Highway and Barrett Parkway in West Cobb.
A tractor trailer traveling on the outer loop of Interstate 285 jack-knifed near South Cobb Drive, causing delays in that area.
A flash flood watch continued for most of the Atlanta area and north Georgia through midnight.
There were no reports of closed roads in Cobb, but the exit ramp from I-85 southbound at Camp Creek Parkway south Fulton County was closed due to flooding, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The busy access point to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport reopened shortly after 5 p.m.
“We are working throughout Central and North Georgia and the Metropolitan Atlanta area to remove debris and clear standing water and clogged storm drains,” Georgia DOT commissioner Keith Golden said.
“This has been an extraordinarily devastating event in many areas of northwest Georgia and a most frustrating complication to the evening commute for many thousands. We ask motorists to please be patient and cautious and do not drive through areas of standing water; please detour around these areas if at all possible.”
Compounding the conditions were temperatures that were expected to dip into the 30s and possibly around freezing into the overnight hours on Thursday.
At 12:41 p.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for northern Cobb, Paulding, Bartow, Cherokee and north central Fulton counties that lasted until 1:30 p.m.
Doppler radar showed a thunderstorm southwest of Dallas capable of producing a tornado, and the storm line quickly moved through Acworth and Kennesaw in Cobb, then continued into the Woodstock, Holly Springs and Canton areas in Cherokee, as well as Alpharetta, Milton and Johns Creek in north Fulton.
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