By Scott Dance and Sara Toth, Baltimore Sun Media Group
5:55 PM EDT, June 11, 2013
The National Weather Service has confirmed at least three tornadoes touched down in Maryland on Monday — in the Fork area of Baltimore County, Locust Point in South Baltimore and Coltons Point in St. Mary’s County.
All three were placed in the weakest category on the enhanced Fujita scale, rated EF-0 tornadoes with maximum wind speeds ranging from 65 mph to 80 mph.
The weather service surveyed possible tornado damage in five areas of Maryland on Tuesday – in addition to the three confirmed tornadoes, others were reported in the Woodbine area of Howard County and between Waldorf and La Plata in Charles County.
The Fork tornado touched down for two minutes at 3:28 p.m., uprooting six trees in the Mount Vista Estates subdivision and damaging a fence. Witnesses saw swirling debris in the air. The tornado is estimated to have had wind speeds of 70-80 mph along a half-mile, 100-yard-wide path.
The Locust Point tornado, which was captured in photographs and video, also had up to 80 mph winds and formed about 3:44 p.m. It traveled along a path two-tenths of a mile long over water and land, ripping off parts of the metal roof of a Maryland Port Administration cargo warehouse. It also demolished a small trailer on wheels that was tossed 60 feet. In one nearby office, a window air-conditioning unit was blown inside.
The St. Mary’s tornado lifted a trampoline from a backyard and lodged it 90 feet high in a pine tree. It was estimated to have winds of up to 65 mph, possibly forming from a waterspout that crossed the Potomac River about 9 p.m.
Officials are still reviewing a tornado reported near Starting Gate Court, off of Woodbine Road in western Howard, said to have caused structural and tree damage about 7 p.m.
“We look for rotation, and you’re looking at the damage,” said Ken Widelski, an emergency response meteorologist for the weather service who surveyed the Woodbine damage. “If you have trees folded over, that’s from straight-line winds. If you have trees snapped in different directions, that could be indicative of a tornado.”
Regardless of what the weather service finds, Woodbine resident Dennis Davison and his family say they know what they saw descend on their yard on Starting Gate Court about 7 p.m.
“There was a roar like a freight train,” said Davison, 62. “We ran to the front door and saw a funnel cloud with debris 100 feet in the air. It only lasted 30 seconds.”
On Tuesday morning, debris was scattered across more than half of the Davison’s four-acre property. Among the destruction were two of Davison’s cars: two Ford Maverick classics, from 1976 and 1972. Davison said he does not know how much the garage was worth, but estimates damages to be between $55,000 and $80,000.
Surveying the damage Tuesday, Davison’s wife, Mary, pointed out trees twisted and splintered across Route 94. The tornado, if it was one, appeared to have come within 20 feet of the Davisons’ house.
“This wasn’t a gust of wind,” Mary Davison said. “This was something moving. We’ve got a big mess to clean up, but it could have been worse by just a few feet.”
There were seven tornado warnings issued Monday in Maryland, according to the weather service. Warnings are issued if a spotter or emergency manager reports a tornado sighting, or if meteorologists see signs of a tornado on radar. A signature forecasters call a “hook echo,” in which a storm takes on a somewhat comma-like shape indicating rotation, is considered a sign of a possible tornado.
Meteorologists will be watching radar closely Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. Maryland is included in areas with about 15 percent chances of severe storms both afternoons, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
The highest storm risk was expected in the Ohio Valley, but some large so-called supercell storms could survive a cross over the Appalachian Mountains, an obstacle that often quiets storms before they reach Maryland. Thursday, hot, humid air and an oncoming cold front could spur more severe weather and nearly 2 inches more of rain, according to weather service forecasts.
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