National Weather Service officials have not confirmed any tornado touchdowns in the Baltimore area from Tuesday night, but reports of gumball-sized hail and torrential rains and flooding are piling up.
The weather service's Sterling, Va., office is in the process of exploring areas of two tornado warnings, meteorologist Heather Sheffield said. The first was issued about 8:50 p.m. in an area that included Owings Mills, Pikesville, Roland Park and Towson; it expired 25 minutes later. A second tornado warning followed at 10:36 p.m. affecting Middle River, Perryman and Aberdeen. It was canceled at 10:55 p.m.
The weather service hasn't received reports of the type of damage to be expected from a tornado, Sheffield said Wednesday afternoon. That means nowhere for weather service officials to survey and potentially confirm a tornado.
What officials have received are many reports of rain and hail wreaking havoc over much of central Baltimore County and northern Baltimore City. Emergency officials reported making multiple swift water rescues of people trapped in cars on flooded roads, while residents scurried to prevent pooling water from flooding basements, often unsuccessfully.
In Baltimore County, first responders received 11 calls for swift water rescues, spokeswoman Louise Rogers-Feher said. Calls made to 911 from across the county were "too numerous" to tally, she said.
Weather service flash flood warnings cautioned of as much as 3 inches of rain falling in a period of an hour or so, a figure confirmed by weather spotter reports. Two spotters reported 3.18 inches and 2.93 inches near Towson, while another reported 2.62 inches in Mount Washington, according to CoCoRaHS, a network of amateur meteorologists who tally precipitation.
The weather service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service's models estimate highest rainfall totals in the Pikesville area, nearly 3 inches, with about 2.5 inches across the Towson area and 2 inches in a broad area around that.
About 19,600 power outages have been reported toBaltimore Gas and Electric Co.; 18,100 of them have been repaired as of 1 p.m. Wednesday. The most remaining outages are in Baltimore, with about 1,100 customers without power and 4,500 restored. In Baltimore County, 12,400 customers have been restored and 400 are still without power.
Official storm reports made to the weather service's Sterling office show a glimpse of some of the chaos caused by flooding, as well as the severity of widespread hail.
Dulaney Valley Road was closed at Old Bosley Road in Timonium, while Taylor Avenue was closed at Perring Parkway in Parkville.
A swift water rescue was made on Pulaski Highway near the Baltimore and Harford county line about 11:25 p.m. Others were reported as ongoing in the Towson area earlier, about 10 p.m. Baltimore County public safety officials could not be immediately reached Wednesday.
The water also flooded out Light Rail tracks, still affecting service Wednesday afternoon. The water washed away ballast that supports the rail tracks, according to the Maryland Transit Administration. Shuttle buses were transporting riders across the northern sections of the rail system, between the Woodberry and Hunt Valley stations.
Burak Tekes of Sparks said he was "literally running for my life" when the storm started during his afternoon run Tuesday. The severe thunderstorm had him contemplating hitchhiking and scrambling for shelter, fearing the worst.
He spent an hour waiting in the entrance to the Loveton Farms apartments leasing office until it was safe to make his way home.
Weather spotters reported dime size hail in Towson, and slightly larger than that near Manchester. In the Rossville and Perry Hall areas of Baltimore County and the Pimlico area of the city, hail reached 1 inch across, and it was 1.5 inches in Parkville.
An earlier version misidentified an intersection. Dulaney Valley Road was closed at Old Bosley Road . The Sun regrets the error.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun