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Baltimore tornado is first-ever fatal tornado in colder months on record

WASHINGTON — The tornado that touched down in Baltimore, Maryland, Friday night which killed two people and injured another, is the first fatal tornado that occurred in the fall and winter months in the state on record.

Baltimore Fire identified the two victims Saturday as Andrew Lindsay, 54, and Israel Espana Argote.

On Saturday, the National Weather Service confirmed that the EF-1 tornado with an estimated maximum wind speed of 105 mph touched down in Baltimore just before 10 p.m. Friday.

An EF-1 tornado is considered “weak” on the Enhanced Fujita scale.

WTOP’s Dave Dildine said it’s “fairly rare to get tornadoes this time of the year.”

“They have occurred in all months, but this time of the year, tornadoes tend to be brief. They tend to spin up quickly, but they can do damage,” he said.

Historically, tornadoes have touched down in the month of November, but only once every seven or eight years, Dildine said.

The last time a tornado touched down in Maryland during the month of November, it was 2010. The tornado hit Baltimore County, less than 10 miles away from where the Friday tornado touched down.

The 2010 tornado was also an EF-1 of similar strength.

Why is it so uncommon? Dildine explained: “This time of the year, we have a lot of wind energy in the atmosphere, as the jet stream sags south. But there isn’t a lot of instability. The sun angle is lower, and so it tends to be more difficult to generate sufficient instability, and that’s one of the ingredients you need for tornado genesis.”

It’s been fairly warm for fall, and Dildine said the warmer weather seen before the cold front on Friday offered “just enough buoyancy for storms to flare up.”

Similar weather setups have been the cause of tornadoes later in the year in the past.

“It’s a good reminder to everyone that it’s always a good idea to be weather aware, no matter what time of the year it is,” Dildine said.

The last tornado fatality in Maryland occurred in April 2002, in La Plata.

Four people were killed by tornadoes in southern Virginia late February 2016, and the most recent tornado-related death in the state happened in Chesterfield in September 2018.

WTOP’s Keara Dowd, Jennifer Ortiz and Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.


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