www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/ellicott-city/ph-woodbine-tornado-20130611,0,2322505.story

baltimoresun.com

NWS investigating possible Woodbine tornado

By Sara Toth, stoth@tribune.com

5:59 PM EDT, June 11, 2013

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Mary Davison took the week off from work to clean her house and get together with her girlfriends to go through her family’s storage shed and two-car garage. They were going to pick out items for a yard sale.

But on Tuesday, June 11, her yard was cluttered with the remnants of those two buildings, their contents scattered over much of the Davisons’ four-acre Woodbine property in the 3200 block of Starting Gate Court. The National Weather Service said Tuesday it was investigating a possible tornado that might have touched down the previous evening, destroying the Davisons’ shed and garage.

“Now look at this,” Mary Davison said, laughing, arms spread out to her debris-ridden yard. “Now I’m paralyzed. I don’t even know where to start.”
Ken Widelski, an emergency response meteorologist with the NWS, said he and his team would be assessing the scene at the Davisons’ property and issue a report with their findings “in the next day or two.

“We have to take a look at all the damage,” he said. “We look for rotation, and you're looking at the damage. If you have trees folded over, that's from straight-line winds. If you have trees snapped in different directions, that could be indicative of a tornado.”

Although the NWS needs to do its research, Dennis Davison knows what he and his family saw.

About 7 p.m., after the family finished dinner, the storm “was intensifying rather rapidly. There was a roar like a freight train. We ran to the front door and saw a funnel cloud with debris 100 feet in the air. It only lasted 30 seconds,” he said.

The noise was “just deafening. I just thought of Oklahoma,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this here.”
Dennis Davison’s son, Bill, was the first person in the house to see what he called a “cyclone,” and he called his father to the front door. Initially, Bill said, he thought the debris 100 feet in the air was cardboard — it was actually parts of the shed and garage.

“Then we looked out the side, and there was no garage left,” Bill said. “I was in shock. It happened so fast I didn’t know how to react.”
When the father and son opened the doors to their house's attached garage, they saw their other, separate two-car garage and a storage shed “totally obliterated,” said Davison, 62.

The wreckage was everywhere. A pitchfork was stuck at an angle in the ground, and bicycles, shingles, siding, gardening tools and other items were strewn throughout the grass. Davison said his neighbors found his garage door in their yard, a half-mile away. Among the destruction were two of Davison's cars: 1976 and 1972 Ford Mavericks.

In the backyard, under one of the pine trees that line the edge of the property, was a large street sign bearing the name of the Davisons’ street: Starting Gate Court. It was wrenched from its post along Route 94, which also edges the Davisons’ property.

Davison said he does not know how much the garage was worth, but estimates damages to be between $55,000 and $80,000.

The line of destruction can be seen from the Davisons’ backyard: surveying the damage Tuesday, Davison's wife, Mary, pointed out trees twisted and splintered across Route 94, looking southwest from her backyard. The narrow path of the possible tornado goes from the trees across the highway through a field, across the street, through a neighbor's backyard, through a shattered portion of fence and where the garage and shed used to be.The tornado, if it was one, came within 20 feet of the Davison's house.

“This wasn't a gust of wind,” Mary Davison said. “This was something moving. We've got a big mess to clean up, but it could have been worse by just a few feet.”

As reporters and camera crews trudged through the debris Tuesday morning, Mary said she was “stunned” by the night’s events. In Woodbine, they’ve had siding and trees damaged by wind storms, she said, but “nothing like this.

“I don’t know what to think,” she said. “I know we’re fine, and I know it’s just stuff. I have to be thankful for that.”