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One dead after strong storms move across Carroll County, causing damage, generating tornado warnings

One dead after strong storms move across Carroll County, causing damage, generating tornado warnings
A downed tree blocks Deer Park Road at the intersection of Gracie Drive in Finksburg after a powerful storm blew through the area Monday, JUly 22, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

A strong line of storms moved across Carroll County on Monday, killing a Finksburg man and triggering the National Weather Service to issue tornado warnings — warnings that were rescinded by 3:45 p.m., though severe thunderstorm and flood watches remained in effect.

Around 6:24 p.m. the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and emergency medical services responded to a property in the 2900 block of Bloom Road, Finksburg, for a call of a tree falling on a person there, according to a Carroll County Sheriff’s Office media release.

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An 89-year-old man was found trapped under a tree in his driveway and though the tree was moved and emergency measures attempted, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police believe the man was standing in his driveway when winds associated with the storms blew the tree down and on to him, according to the release. His identity was not immediately released.

Numerous roads remained closed around Carroll County as of 6 p.m. Monday, according to the Carroll County Bureau of Roads Operations, including multiple portions of Deer Park Road, Hook Road and Bollinger Road, around the 5000 block of Cherry Tree Lane and around the 700 block of Klees Mill Road.

Carroll County Road Closures after July 22 storms.
Carroll County Road Closures after July 22 storms. (Carroll County Government)

A severe thunderstorm watch remained in effect for Carroll until 10 p.m., and a flash flood watch until 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeremy Geiger, who is based in Sterling, Virginia. Rain is expected to taper off by the Tuesday morning hours, and early afternoon at the latest, he said, but the flooding threat at that point will be very localized rather than widespread.

Around 3 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service was alarmed enough by a powerful line of storms moving northwest from the Linganore area in Frederick County that a tornado warning was issued for areas including Mount Airy and Woodbine, and that on top of a severe thunderstorm watch.

“Watches are just the conditions are favorable for something to happen,” Geiger said. "A warning is you actually see signals or signs of it actually occurring."

Monday afternoon, radar detected rotation in the storm clouds consistent with a tornado, according to Geiger, and similar signals lead to a warning being issued for the Westminster area at 3:34 p.m. Monday, though both warnings were rescinded by 3:45 p.m.

“Typically we cancel or cut back a warning if a storm moves out of an area,” he said. “We will also cancel storm warnings if the storm has weakened or the signs we see start to dissipate.”

Tree branches are removed from the roof of a home on Sulaine Ct. in Finksburg after a powerful storm blew through the area Monday, July 22, 2019.
Tree branches are removed from the roof of a home on Sulaine Ct. in Finksburg after a powerful storm blew through the area Monday, July 22, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Whether a tornado actually touched down anywhere in Carroll County on Monday afternoon remains to be seen, according to Geiger, as radar coverage over Carroll County is not always sufficient to make a definitive diagnosis.

“Sometimes you can see signs of debris being lifted up, but in this area it’s hard because you don’t get super strong storms,” he said. “They only occur for sometimes minutes, or 10 to 15 minutes. They are not on long enough for that stuff to be lifted up in the air for the radar to catch.”

Official determination then, may have to wait for post-storm damage reports.

“If we get a report that there is a lot of damage, we get pictures, we will send an official person up there to survey it,” Geiger said. “If there is a focused area of damage, then we look at the pattern. If everything falls in the same direction, usually it’s not a tornado, because a tornado will rip things up and throw it in multiple directions because the wind is twisting.”

While formal assessments of damage patterns await, Maryland State Police were out Monday afternoon dealing with downed trees and road closures, according to a spokeswoman from the Westminster Barrack.

The southbound lanes of Md. 32 south of Md. 97 were closed in places due to down trees, with the State Highway Administration on the scene trying to clear them around 4:40 p.m., according to the spokeswoman, while the traffic light at the intersection Md. 32 and Md. 97 was out.

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“There should be a trooper there giving traffic directions until we get the power back on for that,” she said.

There was also a small closure on Nicodemus Road at Md. 97 due to some trees on power wires, according to the spokeswoman, as well as a tree in the roadway on southbound Md. 140 at the Baltimore County line.

“We have a lot of stuff going on, but those are the main things,” she said. “Working through it, getting it cleared up.”

Tree limbs that fell on power lines block Md. 32 near the intersction of Nicodemus Road in Westminster after a powerful storm blew through the area Monday, JUly 22, 2019.
Tree limbs that fell on power lines block Md. 32 near the intersction of Nicodemus Road in Westminster after a powerful storm blew through the area Monday, JUly 22, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)
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