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Meteorologist confirms small tornado hit Anne Arundel County Saturday


A meteorologist for the National Weather Service confirmed yesterday what Anne Arundel County residents suspected: a small but intense tornado cut a narrow swath through the community of Arnold on Saturday night.

The twister, which ranged from 50 to 100 yards wide, packed winds of up to 95 miles an hour and vanished 2 miles and 4 minutes after it touched down in the development of Belvedere Heights, said Barry Goldsmith, an official from National Weather Service headquarters in Sterling, Va. who toured the area yesterday.

"It wasn't a 'Wizard of Oz' tornado, but all the telltale signs are there," said Mr. Goldsmith, who used witness accounts and more than 120 uprooted trees to reconstruct the twister's path: over Forked Creek, through the neighborhood of Ulmstead Acres and into the Magothy River, where it disappeared at 5:57 p.m.

"Nobody saw a funnel per se because of the blinding rain," Mr. Goldsmith said. "But residents saw things being sucked into the air. And they said their ears popped, denoting a dramatic decrease in [barometric] pressure."

More tornado evidence: Three huge chunks of a 100-foot pine tree downed during the storm landed in a way consistent with the spinning winds of a twister, Mr. Goldsmith said. He saw 10 homes that sustained minor damage.

Mr. Goldsmith's assessment: "I think these residents were very lucky." Anne Arundel County police said there were no injuries.

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