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A decade ago, worst tornado in Maryland history ripped through La Plata

A decade ago tomorrow, the worst tornado in Maryland history struck La Plata, killing three people and flattening buildings with 261 mph winds.

The F5 twister, the top of the scale for tornado intensity, left a plate of fried chicken on the counter of a fast-food restaurant but tore off two of the building's walls and its roof, according to one Baltimore Sun report.

It left one resident's mailbox standing, waiting for more mail in front of a house that was torn from its foundation, resting on some bushes.

For lifelong La Plata resident Irene B. Wood, it brought a frightening case of deja vu -- Wood had lived through what was previously Maryland's worst tornado, which struck Nov. 9, 1926 and killed 17, including her sister and 13 of her classmates.

View the links to the left to revisit The Sun's coverage of the tragedy.

The La Plata twister isn't the only to devastate the state in this century, though. It was preceded a year earlier by a tornado that ripped through College Park and killed three people.

Maryland sees an average of three to four tornadoes per year. When considering those on record through 2001, Anne Arundel County saw the most tornadoes in the state, with 27. Baltimore County and Baltimore city, combined, saw 23 over the same period.

The frequency of Maryland tornadoes given the state's size recently ranked it No. 3 on a Weather Channel list of top tornado states. The state has seen about 10 tornadoes per 10,000 square miles between 1950 and 2010, lagging behind only Florida and Kansas.

If a tornado strikes, people are advised to move indoors to the lowest possible interior room.

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