Tornado confirmed as cause of Tuesday storm damage in Darlington area

Harford County and National Weather Service officials confirmed late Tuesday that a tornado caused extensive damage to homes and farms in the 1200 and 1300 blocks of Stafford Road in Darlington in the early morning hours Tuesday.

According to the Harford County Department of Emergency Services, the NWS announced late Tuesday evening that an EFO tornado caused the damage.

The tornado is believed to have touched down at 12:12 a.m. Tuesday with estimated winds of 80 mph, according to a news release Harford Emergency Services issued Wednesday morning. National Weather Service officials estimate the path of the tornado to have been 100 yards wide and approximately eight-tenths of a mile long, the release states.

No deaths or injuries were reported from the storm and tornado. Additionally, at this time, there is no estimate of the damage to the properties at 1247 and 1320 Stafford Road, the department said.

Robert Thomas, spokesman for the Department of Emergency Services, said county officials learned of the damage around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, after a heavy thunderstorm came through Harford County.

"We had no other reports of serious damage in the county overnight," Thomas said Tuesday afternoon. "It was pretty much restricted to this one area [of Stafford Road]."

Thomas said Stafford had been closed, except to local traffic, as crews from Delmarva Power and Verizon worked to restore utility service.

Crews from the Department of Public Works had been on the scene earlier in the day to remove debris from the road.

"We've observed dozens of trees that have been extensively damaged or destroyed," Thomas said.

Thomas traveled to the scene with fellow emergency services staffers and National Weather Service staff from Sterling, Va.

He gave a description of "two properties that have sustained significant damage" during a telephone interview with The Aegis.

The properties included a one-story rancher home, part of Murmur Farm in the 1300 block of Stafford, and the Holloway farm across the road.

Thomas said there was damage to the house and the garage, including ripped siding and roof damage.

An outbuilding on the farm property was also destroyed, and fences and the pasture were damaged as well.

Thomas said about one acre of the Holloways' cornfield across the road suffered "extensive damage."

He said the cornstalks "have been completely knocked to the ground."

Audrey Murray and her husband, Allen, has owned Murmur Farm, where they breed thoroughbred horses, since 1988.

She and her husband were not injured, nor were any of their 75 horses, although the outbuilding that served as a horse shelter was pulled out of the ground and thrown into the middle of a field.

"[The storm] just picked it up, pulled all the poles out of the ground and [dropped] it over in the middle of the field," she said.

She said a thunderstorm had come through the area around 11 p.m. Monday.

Murray said things were quiet, "and then it came back and it was just over top of us."

"It just kept thundering and lightning at the same time, and raining... And rain was just beating against the windows," she recalled. "I'd never heard it rain so hard."

Murray said sheriff's deputies knocked on their door around 5 a.m. Tuesday to tell her and her husband about the damage.

She said the storm "twisted a tree out of the yard and blew it through the fence panels."

The Murrays' neighbors, the Holloways, called to see if they could help.

"We have no building damage; we have an awful lot of trees down and some crop damage," Henry Holloway said via telephone. "Other than that, we're very, very fortunate."

Holloway's nephews run the crop and livestock farm that has been in his family for about seven generations.

"I didn't know we had anything but thunder and lightning and rain," he said.

Holloway said he saw the damage when he went outside Tuesday morning.

Power came on for the Murrays and the Holloways around 2:30 to 2:35 p.m.

Holloway said it appeared the Murrays' farm took "the brunt" of the storm damage.

"It just doesn't make sense, but there was a lot of power in a small area, I guess," he said.

Thomas said emergency services and National Weather Service representatives were searching for other damage.

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