A cluster of severe thunderstorms swept across Southern Maryland last night, prompting tornado warnings by the National Weather Service that urged people to duck for cover as meteorologists traced alarming Doppler radar readings.
The band of storms, which formed in Northern Virginia, left mostly flooded streets, downed trees, damaged cars and edgy residents in La Plata, who remembered the deadly tornado that generated winds exceeding 207 mph and flattened the small town a little more than year ago.
The first warning was issued at 6:21 p.m., when Doppler radar indicated a developing tornado nine miles southwest of Nanjemoy in Charles County, as the volatile storm system moved east across the Virginia-Maryland border at 30 mph.
The weather service office in Sterling, Va., had received several reports of funnel clouds as the storms continued on a path near La Plata, White Plains and Port Tobacco.
About 6:30 p.m., tornado warning sirens blared in La Plata as lightning, gusty winds and sheets of rain hit the region. The county sheriff's office reported trees falling on cars.
The weather service received reports of downed trees in Hollywood and Leonardtown in St. Mary's County, and two reports of funnel clouds in Bel Alton along Route 301. A waterspout was reported at Swan Point in Charles County.
Sun staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.