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Weather or Not: Can Maryland get tornadoes like the one that pummeled Oklahoma?

We always have warning. Always.

If a hurricane is coming, the Mid-Atlantic gets several days notice.

If a powerful winter storm is coming, Winter Storm Watches are issued by the National Weather Service days in advance.

Severe thunderstorms are somewhat unpredictable, sure. But even then, we can track them on radar and see if they make it over the Appalachian Mountains.

We always have warning and for that we should be grateful.

Unfortunately, there isn't a warning system or emergency drill in the world that can prepare a population for a destructive, large-scale tornado. Poor, Oklahoma.

An EF-5 tornado ripped through the Newcastle/Moore area near Oklahoma City Monday killing at least 24 people, including at least nine children. The photos from the flattened Plaza Towers Elementary School are gripping. It's a devastating scene. Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant donated $1 million to recovery efforts, an incredibly generous gesture for communities where entire developments were flattened.

While watching broadcast television reports of the destruction at Plaza Towers, my wife, a high school teacher, wondered if emergency drills are preparation enough.

I told her they were. Tornadoes do touch down in Maryland. But they aren't anything like the EF-5 monster that ripped through suburban Oklahoma City.

I did a quick search of powerful tornadoes in Maryland and could only find evidence of two F4 tornadoes that have touched down in the state. No F5s have been recorded.

Here's a look at some notable tornadoes in the state:

June 2, 1998: An F4 tornado destroyed 30 homes in Frostburg, according to the National Weather Service. A paper bill was carried 100 miles by the wind into Virginia.

Sept. 24, 2001: An F3 tornado rips through the University of Maryland, College Park, campus just 13 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Two students were killed. I was on campus for that one. It was wild. Dozens of cars in a parking lot were totaled. Somehow, my green Toyota Camry made it through unscathed.

April 28, 2002: An F4 tornado, perhaps the strongest on record in Maryland, pummeled La Plata in Prince George's County, killing four people.

Tornadoes can, and do, touch down in Maryland every year. But, fortunately, the state has avoided the sort of damage portions of Oklahoma are dealing with.

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