Tornado, rains begin weekend

Bay Bridge traffic heavy despite holiday forecast

May 26, 2001|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

A tornado shredded the vinyl siding of homes and tossed uprooted trees onto roofs, damaging at least 15 houses in the Charles County town of Waldorf yesterday evening and setting the stage for a Memorial Day weekend of picnics and parades amid thunderstorms.

The traffic heading over the Bay Bridge toward Ocean City was heavier than normal last night, with rain and wind forcing officials to close one of the three eastbound lanes. Cars nudged along, bumper to bumper, backed up for miles.

Meteorologists warned that the unofficial start of summer will probably be more suited for galoshes and raincoats than flip-flops and bikinis.

"This doesn't look like the greatest Memorial Day weekend, weather-wise," said Andy Woodcock of the National Weather Service.

"It may not be a complete washout," Woodcock said. "There could be moments of sun early [today] and Sunday. But there also could be thunderstorms in the evenings both days."

Monday looks only slightly better -- partly cloudy with a chance of showers and temperatures reaching the low 70s.

The ill omens for sun-worshippers and beach-goers started yesterday afternoon.

At about 4:40 p.m., the skies blackened over Waldorf and a funnel cloud skipped and ripped through houses along Alava Court in the Ashford Oaks subdivision.

No one was injured, but electricity was lost temporarily as power lines went down, said Nicole Kelley, a spokeswoman for the Charles County Sheriff's Office.

At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, about a third of an inch of rain fell yesterday.

Today and tomorrow, forecasters say, the weather will be partly to mostly cloudy, with showers and thunderstorms likely. Just in time for the return to work Tuesday, however, the skies are expected to clear.

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