Investigators from the National Weather Service announced yesterday that they found evidence that a weak tornado touched down briefly Wednesday afternoon in woodlands north of Butler in northern Baltimore County.
No structures were damaged and no one was injured by the twister, which was rated a weak F-0 on the Fujita scale, according to David R. Manning, warning coordinator for the weather service's Sterling, Va. forecast office.
"All the damage I saw was to trees. It was a very heavily forested area," Manning said.
Tornado warnings were issued just before 5 p.m. for Harford and Baltimore counties when rotating winds turned up on Doppler radar images as thunderstorms entered northern Baltimore County.
High winds and hail caused minor damage, downed trees and snapped limbs and wires from Harford County to northern Virginia.
"It started losing some of its lower rotation as it got toward the Howard County line," said James E. Lee, meteorologist-in-charge in the Sterling office. "We did not warn for Howard County ... but we got some video from Silver Spring showing the funnel cloud" about 7 p.m. The cloud did not touch the ground there.
Most of the damage seen during the inspection was from straight-line winds.
The only evidence of a tornado touchdown, Manning said, was just east of Falls Road, between Stringtown and Mt. Carmel roads.
"What I saw was a lot of whole trees down, and a couple of them were uprooted," he said. "Some others had some large limbs snapped off. A good number had their leaves stripped off," a characteristic sign of a tornado.
Also, much of the damage was "convergent toward a common center," he said, which also is typical of a tornado on the ground.
No one should be surprised by the finding, Manning said.
"This is our severe-weather season, and ... it's not uncommon to see a tornado in this part of the world," he said. "Weaker, smaller tornadoes are much, much more common, thankfully, than strong, violent tornadoes."
To see a video of the twister, go to baltimoresun.com/funnelcloud.