Storms flood roads, uproot trees, darken homes Radar indicates 'tornadic activity' in several counties

September 28, 1993|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

The cool of autumn collided with moist, tropical air across much of Maryland yesterday, spawning a series of powerful storms and several suspected tornadoes that uprooted trees, toppled power lines and flooded roadways.

By late afternoon, when the storms had passed, power had been disrupted to thousands of homes and businesses -- most of them in Anne Arundel County and the Washington suburbs, utility companies reported.

Damage reports to the National Weather Service offices traced the northeastward movement of the worst storms, with several apparent tornadoes downing trees and claiming a barn roof in parts of Northern Virginia shortly before 1 p.m., a funnel cloud sighting over Bethesda, and widespread tree damage in Montgomery and Prince George's counties between 1:39 and 2 p.m.

A radar indication of "tornadic activity" over northern Anne Arundel and southeastern Baltimore counties prompted a rare tornado warning, but the only other twister report came from Cecil County, where trees were toppled and sheds blown apart by high winds about 3 p.m.

The strongest recorded wind gust in the area was 61 mph clocked by automated monitors at Stemmers Run Middle School in Essex.

The Annapolis area had gusts exceeding 40 mph, while the National Weather Service office at Baltimore-Washington International Airport reported peak winds of 28 mph.

Peak rainfall amounts from official monitors were 1.85 inches in the aptly named Waterloo, 1.62 inches at BWI and 1.45 inches in Annapolis. Other areas may have received more, depending on the length and intensity of storm conditions.

The storms left trees splintered in Anne Arundel's Severna Park area, near Ritchie Highway between Earleigh Heights Road and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. Traffic was backed up because of downed power lines and trees.

At the Millersville Landfill, two workers were slightly injured when a construction trailer was blown over, authorities said.

An earlier line of storms, some with torrential rains, briefly flooded Baltimore streets.

Shortly after noon, water pressure popped a manhole cover on Calvert Street, between Pratt and Lombard streets, sending a geyser three to four feet into the air.

The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said that 30,134 customers lost power from the storms -- 20,050 of them in Arundel, 4,751 in Howard County, and 3,070 in Baltimore City; the rest scattered in Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties.

In the D.C. area, officials of the Potomac Electric Power Co. had no overall number of customers affected, only periodic "snapshots" of the damage.

At 4 p.m., 20,000 homes and businesses, about half of them in Montgomery and Prince George's, were without power, a utility spokeswoman said.

Fred Davis, chief meteorologist for the Weather Service at BWI, said the weather had a bright side: "It's going to bring us back to autumn."

Forecasts for this area are for sunshine and highs near 70 through tomorrow and overnight lows in the upper 40s.

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