xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Tornado hit Carroll County on Friday morning, one of five that touched down in Maryland, weather services say

A fast-moving storm that charged through Carroll County on Friday morning was indeed a tornado, the National Weather Service said, adding that it damaged buildings, downed trees and caused “erratic damage.”

A fast-moving storm that charged through Carroll County on Friday morning was indeed a tornado, the National Weather Service said, adding that it damaged buildings, downed trees and caused “erratic damage.”

The tornado snapped trees, damaged a National Guard recruiting office and blew over an RV with peak winds of 90 miles per hour, the Weather Service reported in an alert Friday night.

Advertisement

“An eyewitness report, as well as a video of a small tornado posted to social media ... In the Westminster area,” the National Weather Service alert said.

On Friday night, NWS confirmed five tornadoes had touched down in the area in the morning. There also was an EF1 tornado in Frederick County near Monrovia; an EF0 tornado near Boyds and an EF1 tornado near Dickerson, both in Montgomery County; and an EF-1 tornado in northeastern Cecil County.

The storm knocked out power to hundreds of Potomac Edison customers and roughly 1,500 to 2,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers for much of the day Friday.

Valerie Hawkins, county emergency management manager, partially activated the emergency operations center Friday morning. By activating the center, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety, Department of Public Works, fire and emergency medical services, municipal police, and others are notified to come together to tackle the aftermath of the storm, Hawkins said.

Before coming to Carroll, the storm intensified in Loudon County, Virginia, traveled through Montgomery County, crossed over to southeastern Frederick, came up through southwestern Carroll and crossed to the northeast, said Kyle Pallozzi, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Several roads throughout the county were closed Friday. A list is available at carrollcountymd.gov.

West Main Street in Westminster was closed Friday morning between Carroll Street and Old New Windsor Pike for storm damage, including a metal roof in the middle of the road, according to Westminster Deputy Police Chief Maj. Pete D’Antuono.

The roof was tangled with wires, and BGE workers were on the scene, D’Antuono said. He said he knew of at least one tree falling against a house in Westminster.

Advertisement

Pennsylvania Avenue also was closed for downed trees and wires and reopened at about 1 p.m., though a construction crew remained working in the area, according to Westminster police Lt. Steve Launchi. Several alleys were closed due to downed trees, he said.

Launchi did not know of any injuries related to the storm as of Friday afternoon. Chris Winebrenner, Carroll County communications manager, also was not aware of any injuries.

There was “extensive damage” in the New Windsor area, including downed trees and wires and damage to roofs, according to Byron Walker, New Windsor fire chief.

Students take shelter, two maintenance buildings damaged

Carroll County Public Schools students and staff took shelter for up to 45 minutes after the tornado warning was issued.

Schools were notified to take shelter at about 7:45 a.m., according to Duane Williams, supervisor of security and emergency management. Students were moved into interior classrooms and hallways.

“The goal is to get them away from external windows and doors in the event that something can break the glass," he said.

Advertisement

Schools in the southwestern region, such as Century and Liberty high schools, took shelter until about 8:15 or 8:20 a.m., according to Williams. Schools to the northeast, such as those in Westminster, Manchester, and Hampstead, took shelter until about 8:35 a.m., he said.

Williams conferred with Hawkins when the tornado warning was issued and after the warning was lifted.

Facilities staff were still out assessing damage before noon, but it appeared there had been no significant damage to schools, said Jon O’Neal, the schools’ chief of operations.

However, two maintenance buildings behind the adjacent William Winchester Elementary and West Middle schools were damaged, O’Neal said. The roof of a large pole barn that stores dump trucks collapsed and part of the roof came off, he said, and a metal roof also came off one of the maintenance sheds.

Pieces of the metal roof blew across the property, and some debris was found in the parking lot between the schools, most of which has been cleaned up, according to O’Neal. He knew of at least one person who reported damage to their vehicle from the debris.

A tree that stood in front of West Middle fell against a gazebo, and one window pane cracked at the school, O’Neal said.

O’Neal estimated there are about a dozen dump trucks in the partially collapsed barn, but it will be difficult to assess the damage until the debris is removed. He said the district has been in contact with crane companies to possibly bring in a crane Saturday to remove what’s left of the roof.

The dump trucks are used for a variety of tasks, such as clearing snow, O’Neal said. He did not know how much the damage will cost the district, but said it will likely be extensive.

Altogether, O’Neal said, they’re “very, very fortunate” that none of the schools were damaged.

“It appears we fared very well with our buildings other than the plant maintenance,” Williams said.

There were no school bus accidents and all students on buses were safely transported, according to Mike Hardesty, director of transportation services.

When the storm came through, some school buses were arriving to West Middle and William Winchester Elementary, but all of the students and drivers made it into the school safely and sought shelter, Hardesty said.

High school students already had been dropped off when the storm hit, while middle schools and three elementary schools were in the process of dropping off students, according to Hardesty. Drivers were notified of the tornado warning.

They would have taken students to shelter if they saw a tornado, Hardesty said, though no one did. He did not know whether any buses had to pull over because of the storm.

No bus routes were cancelled, but some may have been unable to reach bus stops due to road closures or debris in the road, he said.

Winters Mill High School, at 560 Gorsuch Road in Westminster, was being offered as a shelter for anyone in need of aid, but no one sought shelter for much of the day Friday, according to Winebrenner. The county said it shut it down at 4 p.m.

The American Red Cross was not aware of anyone displaced as a result of the storm, Winebrenner said.

An Emergency Operations Helpline was open for non-emergency help for much of the day, but it was deactivated at 4 p.m., the county announced. For emergencies, call 911.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement