ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. — 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.
The Wednesday twister had an estimated peak wind speed of 160 mph when it slammed into Adairsville, about 60 miles northwest of Atlanta, National Weather Service officials said.
It was the most damaging of Wednesday's tornadoes in Northwest Georgia, which together caused an estimated $75 million in insured losses, Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said.
"That figure will rise as new claims are reported," Hudgens said in a statement.
Crews that toured the destruction Thursday rated the tornado, which destroyed more than 60 buildings in Bartow and Gordon counties, as a strong EF3 twister.
The heaviest damage was found at the Daiki Corp. manufacturing plant in Adairsville, where the 160 mph winds struck, the National Weather Service reported. That is just shy of an EF4 tornado, which has winds of 166 mph and above.
The tornado killed an Adairsville man and injured 17 people.
National Weather Service crews have been surveying other areas as well as they work to confirm how many tornadoes struck Northwest Georgia.
State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the Cartersville Career Center will set up two temporary assistance centers in Adairsville between Tuesday and Feb. 14. Butler said people who are out of work because of the storm may file claims for unemployment insurance benefits and get help with finding a new job.
Butler said about 80 employees of a steel manufacturing plant in Adairsville will be out of work while the plant is rebuilt.
Officials expect the rebuilding process to take a minimum of six months.