Authorities believe a tornado swelled to 900 yards wide -- more than four times the width of the Georgia Dome -- as it tore across northwest Georgia for nearly 22 miles. National Weather Service officials said the Wednesday twister had an estimated peak wind speed of 160 mph when it slammed into Adairsville.
The Paulding Northwest Regional Airport is closed indefinitely after severe weather mangled 19 aircraft and left the hangar in shreds. Meanwhile, students are expected to return to Poole Elementary School Monday, where part of the roof was ripped off and a wall was damaged when the twister swept through Friday night.
Authorities estimate that a tornado and strong storms in north Georgia inflicted at least $15 million in damage. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said Thursday that the damage estimate was preliminary and could grow as homeowners and insurers continue to assess the damage. He said property owners have filed nearly 4,000 claims.
A spate of recent natural disasters could bump Georgia insurance rates, but not right away. State insurance officials say April tornadoes caused $145 million in losses. The Georgia Office of the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner reviews rate increase requests. An official says the 2008 tornadoes, not this year's, are affecting current requests.