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Storm Prediction Center warns of heightened severe weather risk

Just three days after four tornadoes touched down in Maryland, the mid-Atlantic is at risk for more severe thunderstorms.

Multiple meteorology agencies called for a chance of widespread thunderstorms with winds gusting in excess of 60 mph today. The greatest risk for severe weather is from late this morning through this evening.

Hail, flooding and isolated tornadoes are possible, the National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington regional forecast office in Sterling, Va., said Wednesday.

Typically, the Appalachian Mountains serve as a buffer limiting the wrath of powerful thunderstorms for Carroll County. But that doesn't appear to be the case for today, Foot's Forecast online weather cooperative's Keith Krichinsky said.

"It looks like this could be significant enough that the mountains don't hinder it all that much," he said.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center took the unusual step of putting the Baltimore-Washington corridor at moderate risk for severe weather today. This means the Baltimore-Washington region has at least a 45 percent chance of experiencing hail, significant wind gusts or tornadoes within 25 miles of any given point in the region.

It was just the fifth time in the last 13 years that the Storm Prediction Center issued such a heightened warning for severe weather in Washington more than 24 hours in advance.

A flash flood watch was issued for the region by the National Weather Service through this evening due to the threat of 1-2 inches of rain falling as thunderstorms move through.

With the ground already saturated from heavy rainfall during the past week, only an inch of rain in an hour would produce flash flooding of streams and low-lying areas, the National Weather Service said.

The Carroll County Office of Public Safety warned that flash flooding of small streams, scattered roadway flooding, damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes were possible today.

The potential severe weather outbreak comes three days after the National Weather Service confirmed four tornadoes occurred in Maryland Monday: one in Baltimore, one in Baltimore County, one in Howard County and another in St. Mary's County.

The Howard County tornado touched down in Woodbine from 6:59-7:01 p.m. Monday. It was rated EF-0 in the Enhanced Fujita Scale with maximum winds of 80 mph. EF-0 are considered the weakest tornadoes on the scale, which goes up to five. The Woodbine tornado damaged a garage and uprooted several trees in the 3200 block of Starting Gate Court. No injuries were reported.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency encouraged residents to review emergency plans and have supplies available in case of power outages.

Residents should make sure cellphones are charged and have an emergency supply kit with bottled water, nonperishable food, a first-aid kit, portable radio, flashlights, spare batteries and toiletries.

The emergency kit can be used for any type of severe weather. By having one ready, Marylanders are better prepared for potential coastal storms and severe weather later in the year, MEMA spokesman Ed McDonough said.

The heightened storm threat for today prompted MEMA to issue a press release Wednesday encouraging residents to be ready in case of severe weather.

"We've gotten some strong guidance from the National Weather Service," McDonough said. "I think there is a 5-in-10 chance that the Baltimore-D.C. area will get hit by something serious tomorrow."

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