8 tornadoes escort storm on rampage Only 1 injury but $1 million damage in Howard

August 29, 1992|By From Staff Reports Staff writers Alisa Samuels and Jackie Powder contributed to this article.

Eight tornadoes on the stormfront of Hurricane Andrew were spotted over Maryland yesterday afternoon, one of which touched down in Howard County, toppling or damaging about 1,000 trees, mauling cars and buildings and pinning an 88-year-old woman in the wreckage of her home.

Fire officials estimated the damage in Howard County alone at $1 million.

Funnel cloud sightings -- by radar or by spotters assisting the National Weather Service -- included another that touched down: a waterspout on the Patapsco River near Sparrows Point. A half-dozen twisters sighted over Anne Arundel, Harford, Caroline and Wicomico counties likely did not hit the ground, the Weather Service said.

The most damaging display of the storm's power was unleashed at 4:56 p.m. along a two-mile-long, 100-foot-wide strip through western Howard County, where a twister uprooted or damaged more than 1,000 trees and sent one tree crashing into a log cabin.

Injured in the cabin in the 3800 block of Walt-Ann Drive near Glenelg was Mable Brown, 88, who was struck on the head when debris came flying through the roof. She was taken to Montgomery General Hospital in Olney with minor injuries after being rescued by volunteer firefighters.

But in the two hours of spectacular weather activity between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Ms. Brown apparently was the only person injured.

"It's almost like it had eyes. It went down a very narrow, straight-line path, just missing houses right and left," said Donald R. Howell, a Howard County Fire Department spokesman.

Police and weather officials said tornadoes were being reported throughout the state but most apparently did not touch down.

"This might be a record for Maryland for tornadoes spawned from a hurricane," said Fred Davis, the chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Anne Arundel County.

Mr. Davis said it is not unusual for hurricane fronts to bring tornadoes. About 10 years ago, Hurricane David brought about a half-dozen tornadoes to Maryland, he said.

Hurricane Andrew's front brought tornado warnings to 14 Maryland counties. Among the others were Kent, Cecil, Worcester and Queen Anne's counties on the Eastern Shore, weather officials said. Warnings also were sounded in Calvert, Howard, Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Carroll counties, where at least one twister touched down in a cornfield, the Weather Service said.

But even where twisters did not touch down, high winds and heavy rain caused heavy damage. In Anne Arundel County, where a twister was spotted seven miles west of Annapolis, the storm uprooted numerous telephone poles and trees. At least two power transformers blew out, county police said.

The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said about 30,000 customers lost power at the height of the storm. Late last night, 4,100 were still without power, 1,900 of them in the Cockeysville area of Baltimore County.

In western Howard County, the aftermath of the storm left many pondering what had just taken place in the pastoral community around West Friendship and Glenelg.

Paul Hash, 31, who had been going to visit in-laws for dinner on Folley Quarter Road, arrived to find downed trees scattered everywhere. "It's all a mess," Mr. Hash said. "It went through like the 'Wizard of Oz.' "

In Glenelg, next door to the tree-damaged log cabin of Mable Brown, Claire Becker arrived home from work to find three uprooted 60-foot trees in her yard.

"The whole street looks like a battlefield," she said.

"I saw 10 big trees that were just torn right in half like toothpicks," said Sherry Hogue, who lives across from street.

Mrs. Hogue said she was sitting in her sun room when "immediately this terrible wind gust and a torrent of rain came up, so I went to the basement."

Howard County officials said that a house on Route 32 near Parliament Drive also was heavily damaged by falling trees and heavy winds, and that a trailer was overturned.

Maryland State Police in Westminster said they had no reports of wind-related problems in Carroll County. A home in Finksburg was struck by lightning, but there was no fire or serious damage, according to Chief Donald W. Love of the Reese Fire Company.

About a half mile down the hill from the destroyed log cabin near Glenelg, Vernon Burgess, 56, said he was thankful to still be alive. Near the cabin, a barn was flattened.

"I certainly do feel fortunate," he said, standing outside his rancher house at 13170 Triadelphia Road. "It certainly could have been worse. Somebody could have gotten hurt."

There were three pummeled trees, including a big maple, in his yard. Snapped branches were throughout the lawn and a downed wire hung over his home. An out building was destroyed.

Three cars in the area were damaged and Mr. Burgess lost his electrical power.

"I've never had anything happen like this," he said.

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