Carroll County Times

Severe weather hits area, wreaks havoc on county

While the county experienced extreme weather Friday, residents should now be enjoying a nice weekend, with temperatures at a high of 72 degrees today and 74 degrees Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

The county, however, was in a frenzy Friday as a result of severe storms that traveled through the region.

The first storm moved through the Damascus area, pushed through Mount Airy, and tracked to the northeast, affecting Gamber, Finksburg, Reese and Hampstead. The second storm followed a similar path. Both sparked tornado warnings due to radar-indicated rotation.

The storms were accompanied by strong winds and torrential downpours, which prompted a flash flood warning to be issued in Carroll County. Trees fell down in several locations and debris covered many roadways, sometimes closing roads or delaying traffic.

Almost every community in Carroll County was placed under a tornado warning Friday. As a result, Carroll County Public Schools held students after usual dismissal times until the warnings were lifted, according to school system spokeswoman Carey Gaddis.

Most schools began dismissal at or a little before 4:15 p.m. Friday. When the school system received word that the tornado warning was extended to 5 p.m. in the Lineboro area, it asked that Ebb Valley Elementary and Manchester Elementary dismiss students at 5 p.m. All afternoon and evening school activities were canceled.

Westminster High School allowed students to leave more than an hour and a half after the school's usual dismissal time. Irene Yingling, an 11th grader, said students didn't know when they would get to start their weekend.

"No one knew what time we were being dismissed," she said. "It kept getting pushed back."

Eleventh-grader Olivia Pettingill was ecstatic to leave the school at 4:15 p.m. Though she understands why it happened, she said being held was frustrating and she became very hungry.

Her mother, Robin Pettingill, picked her up Friday just as it was cleared for students to leave the building.

"I'm just glad it's over," she said. "I just want to get her home."

Students were placed in hallways, interior classrooms, the gym and the auditorium during the tornado warning, according to school Academic Facilitator Kirstie Troutman.

Most staff members stayed at the school until students were dismissed. High Schoolers were entertained by signing yearbooks, playing games and watching movies.

Thousands lost power as a result of the storms, and 848 of BGE's customers and 98 of Potomac Edison customers were still without electricity as of 10:30 p.m.

Winters Mill High School was opened as a shelter from 7-10 p.m. Friday. About 15 people staffed the shelter that was open for residents who lost power, had to leave their home because it was damaged, or for any other reason.

The National Weather Service will send investigators into the affected areas where tornadoes might have touched down. By studying damage and other reports, they will then make a conclusion.

Funnel clouds and tornadoes were reported throughout the region, including at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, according to the National Weather Service. Tree debris was spotted by tower personnel there. No damage to the airport was reported.