Tornado touches down in Howard Co. during DC-area storms

The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday that a tornado touched down in Howard County, Maryland, at 3:34 p.m.

It happened in Columbia, along state Route 32. The EF-1 tornado took the roof off an office building on the 9700 block of Broken Land Parkway. An EF-1 level tornado has a wind speed of between 86 to 110 mph.

A line of strong thunderstorms passed through the D.C. area Thursday afternoon, bringing downed power lines, more than 100,000 power outages and at least a few swamped vehicles to the region.

Howard County spokesman Mark S. Miller said that there had been reports of many trees down along the northside of Maryland state Route 32 near the Shaker Drive area, and the National Weather Service surveyed the area to determine if a tornado touched down.

D.C.; Arlington, Virginia; and Hyattsville, Maryland, were under a Tornado Warning for a time. At 3:46 p.m., the National Weather Service said a severe thunderstorm capable of starting a tornado was located “over the U.S. Capitol, or over Nationals Park.”

Storm damage, road closures

In Rockville, Maryland, 16-year-old Sophia Abedellatif was home alone when the storm hit and the power went out in her house. She said that she went downstairs to get a drink and saw a fire outside and a huge tree that had fallen.

She called 911, grabbed her two dogs and waited outside in the rain for first responders. Her father, Yousef, was at work in Bethesda and he said that he “freaked out” when he saw the pictures she sent. He said that where the tree had fallen is where he would have normally parked his car had he been home.

In D.C., a tree fell into a house on 18th Place in Southeast. No one was hurt, but two workers and a resident had to be evacuated. And that was far from the only house to be hit by a tree.

National Park Service crews cleared downed limbs and debris at the John Paul Jones Memorial on Independence Avenue.

The strong storms caused further damage to the toppled mulberry tree on the grounds of the Washington Monument that was repaired yesterday. NPS said that the force of the storm moved the tree’s temporary support, but the agency is hopeful that the tree can be saved.

Downed lines and debris in the roads are combining to play havoc on the roads; keep an eye on WTOP’s Traffic page.

Pete Piringer, of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, said via Twitter that wires are down throughout the county, and that at least one road has been closed due to downed power lines, and that at least one person has already been rescued from a car that was stuck in high water on Rockville Pike near the Beltway.

In Arlington County, Glebe Road was closed between Henderson Road and U.S. 50, as crews cleared debris from a fallen tree.

Power outages in the area


In the wake of Thursday’s storms, a cold front moves in overnight that will shift winds from south to northwest. The temperature drops to the near 50s, leading to a refreshing Friday with sunshine and lower humidity, Storm Team4 meteorologist Amelia Draper said.

  • Friday: Mostly sunny, breezy and warm but less humid. Highs in the low 80s.
  • Saturday: Partly cloudy and warm. Highs near 80 degrees.
  • Sunday: Partly sunny, hot and humid with a chance of thunderstroms. Highs near 90 degrees.
  • Monday, Memorial Day: Partly sunny, warm and humid. Highs in the mid to upper 80s.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo and Dave Dildine contributed to this report from Rockville, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia.

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