Nature's Fury Nothing New in Norcross

Wild weather and natural disasters have shaped Norcross history.

Since the early 1800s recollections of weather anomalies jump from the pages of the Farmer’s Almanac as well as handwritten journals. Deep freezes, chokingly dry droughts and quick-moving thunderstorms challenged the fortitude of early settlers and Native Americans who survived on the fruits of their labor, literally.

Marion Ray, a Norcross farmer, drew an account of changes in the moon’s silhouette during a late 1890s eclipse he witnessed in the night sky.

Cotton kept the Gwinnett economy moving for decades after reconstruction until the boll weevil ate a path of destruction across farmer’s field after farmer’s field.

It was April of 1908, when a severe thunderstorm reportedly spawned tornadoes that took more than 230 lives.

It was April again, this time in 1924, when a deadly two0day outbreak of tornadoes, 26 significant in size, dotted the South leaving over 110 dead and a reported 1,133 injured. The most severe touch down in Gwinnett was on 30th when an F2, or "considerable" tornado, damaged much of Lawrenceville.  Dubbed a "super cell," it later produced a tornado family that left F3, or "severe," damage along a path from Hartwell, Georgia to south of Spartanburg, South Carolina, destroying 100 homes and two cotton mills, and generating $1.5 million in damage.

According to records, the largest tornado in Norcross touched down in November of 1973 leaving in its wake 199 injured and 7 dead.  Earlier that same year, in January, ice fell in Atlanta and north Georgia, followed by an unusual 96-hour below freezing period. Restoring power took more than a week.

Norcross High School opened a beautiful 440,000 square foot facility in August of 2001 on land purchased by the county after a devastating 1998 tornado cleared the land of hundreds of trees. This tornado was first sighted when it touched down in Dunwoody and tore a path across the northern suburbs on April 9.

A videotape from inside that funnel cloud, caught by a police officer trying to outrun it, was later shown on television across the United States.

It was August 13 2010, a Friday, when a rouge thunder storm blew into town. Lightning struck three trees, toppling one grand  hardwood onto power lines. It rained so hard, so quickly that flooded downtown businesses shut down for several hours.

Norcross dodged this week’s weather bullet--but knock on wood, dash salt over your shoulder and heed the siren's blare--because Mother Nature’s fury is  "historically" just another  round away.


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