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Shane Durrance Captures Atlanta Tornado

During the evening hours of March 14, 2008, local photographer Shane Durrance captured a rare photograph from the roof of his condominium off Howell Mill Road in downtown Atlanta, GA. Durrance, who had been enjoying the light show during a night storm, raced to the roof hoping to catch a shot of the pounding lightning strikes blanketing the city. He got something far better than lightning.

What Durrance captured that night was the first tornado ever recorded within the city limits of Atlanta. The tornado, an EF-2 on the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale, caused an estimated $200 million in property damage in the downtown area – some of which still has not been repaired as of December 2009. The National Weather Service classifies an EF-2 as having the ability to cause considerable damage with winds that can rage up to approximately 160 mph.

The tornado appears on the left side of the image as a light gray vertical band that connects the Atlanta skyline to the swirling clouds above. Night time photos of tornados are incredibly difficult to capture because the darkness masks the funnel cloud. In fact, Durrance was only able to photograph this amazing natural occurrence due to the consistent lightning that had first lured him to the roof of his building.

Durrance and his incredible photograph appeared on numerous Atlanta television news programs, as well as in countless newspapers and magazines across the country. He also received a prestigious Pulitzer Prize nomination in conjunction with his photo of the record-breaking Atlanta tornado.