Storms down trees, knock out power in metro Atlanta

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ATLANTA - Strong thunderstorms popped up across metro Atlanta, causing scattered power outages, localized flooding and knocking down several trees.

High temperatures triggered a series of thunderstorms, and more showers are in Thursday’s forecast.

Wednesday’s storms first popped up in south metro Atlanta and then covered most of the region.

"They really flared up across north Georgia," Severe Weather Team 2 chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said.

The thunderstorms included hundreds of lightning strikes and hail, according to Burns. Some metro areas received up to 3 inches of rain.

Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Karen Minton expects more of the same on Thursday. The weather is expected to be partly cloudy, hot and muggy with scattered afternoon thunder storms, but less than the previous day.

Barbara Alford is comforted by her friends and thanking God that she wasn't home, but rather at church choir practice when lightning struck her home around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

"The lord is in control," Alford told Channel 2's Wendy Corona.

Alford said she was meant to be there but the lightning, thunder and hail kept neighbor Chris Vandermolen at home across the street.

"The thunder was so loud I thought, 'I'm not getting out in this,' and by that time it just struck down and I thought it was my unit," Vandermolen said. "It was just a real loud popping sound."

More than two hours after Union City fire department's response, there were still hot spots to battle.

The lightning strike destroyed the home from front to back. It's a reality that Alford is accepting.

"I'll get a new house, new furniture," she told Corona.

Firefighters were able to salvage some of the 78-year-old's clothes and pictures from the home.

While some said she's lucky, Alford said she's blessed.

"I've got her bed all ready and I've got things that she can wear. She'll be set," Vandermolen said. "Her daughter did call from Florida and I assured her she's well taken care of."

Officials said lightning struck at least one home in Cherokee County as well.

Channel 2's Ross Cavitt arrived at a home on Land Road and found it burned to the foundation. Homeowners told Cavitt the lightning hit a tree about 50 feet from their home and the electricity traveled from the tree and through underground gas lines to their home. The homeowners were not home at the time and found their home engulfed in flames. No one was hurt, but some family pets did die.

Lightning caused a second fire a few blocks away on Fincher Road, Cavitt reported. Firefighters told Channel 2 Action News that lightning struck Hill Top Acres on Lester Road in Union City. No one in the retirement community was hurt, officials said.

Channel 2's Ryan Young reported from a home on Beecher Street in southwest Atlanta where a tree fell on a house and clipped power lines.

Young said he could hear the house creaking in the background and firefighters had asked people to move away from the area in case the tree fell further.

A Douglas County deputy also reported a tree blocking Highway 166 near Highway 92.

A Georgia Power spokesman said nearly 7,500 homes and businesses had scattered power outages across metro Atlanta.

Wednesday’s 90-degree high was a first for this July. It is the latest date to hit that temperature since 1975.

Thursday’s highs are in the low 90s, and there’s a chance of rain in the forecast for the next four days.

Stay with Severe Weather Team 2 for continued coverage of the thunderstorms and send your weather photos to pix@wsbtv.com.