- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado hit Anne Arundel County during powerful storms Thursday night that destroyed homes and knocked out power to thousands of residents.

Agency forecasters said yesterday the tornado was at its most intense and widest point as it passed through the community of lower Magothy Beach. The investigation showed the funnel had wind speeds of 90 mph and was as wide as 250 yards. The agency classified the storm as an F1 on the Fujita scale ranging from F0 to F5.

Officials reported 33 to 48 houses in Anne Arundel County were severely damaged, with about 15 uninhabitable.

Matt Diehl, an Anne Arundel County spokesman, said most of the damage was in the Pasadena area, along North Drive and lower Magothy Bridge Road.

“It’s pretty amazing what Mother Nature can do,” he said. “There were trees in the homes and just some really unbelievable damage to property.”

Mr. Diehl also said county crews and private contractors worked through Thursday night and will continue until the damaged areas are safe again.

“I can tell you that they’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in a short amount of time,” he said.

Stores in Severna Park Marketplace were also hit, causing roof damage to a Giant grocery store, destroying cart corrals and damaging several cars in the parking lot, said Jamie Miller, Giant’s public affairs manager.

The storms swept into the region at about 6:30 p.m., and also caused minor damage to the Lisbon area in Howard County and the Boring area of Baltimore County.

The agency said a tornado did not hit the Prince George’s County, despite witness accounts that one touched down in the Bowie area.

“It looked like a fog,” said Shelley Cogle, a resident of Bowie, in Prince George’s County, whose garage was hit by a tree. “It got real dark. It was raining, and we actually didn’t feel it or hear the tree hit the house. There wasn’t really any time to think of anything, it just came and went.”

A Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) spokeswoman said the company expected to fix most of the outages by last night, but some residents might have to wait until today or Sunday.

Mrs. Cogle said she has been without power since the storm hit Thursday.

“The county was saying two to three days,” Mrs. Cogle said. “The neighbor next door has a power line down in their backyard, so my guess is a couple days.”

Mark Brady, a spokesman for Prince George’s County fire department, said reports of storm damage began coming in a few minutes after 6 p.m.

He said some neighborhoods sustained significant damage, with trees and utility wires knocked down. Mr. Brady also said none of the homes had significant damage, but that a large number sustained some type of structural damage.

The weather service reported winds in the county as high as 66 mph.

Spokespersons from Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties reported no significant injuries.

BGE reported 20,000 homes were without power almost immediately following the storm. As of yesterday evening, 625 homes in Anne Arundel County and 884 in Prince George’s County were without power, according to the company Web site.

Pepco services only a small section of Prince George’s County and reported 81 outages in the region yesterday evening.

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