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Maryland weather: Wednesday storms brought heavy rain across Baltimore region; Columbia impacted by strong winds

Severe storms moved through Central Maryland Wednesday night, bringing a barrage of heavy rain and wind, which downed trees and flooded roads.

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Columbia and southern Howard County appeared to be the storm’s “sweet spot,” said National Weather Service forecaster Jeremy Geiger Thursday morning, after the area received 4 to 5 inches of rain.

Post-storm surveys conducted Thursday by the NWS office in the Columbia area of Howard County showed damages were caused by straight-line winds from a downburst of a severe thunderstorm rather than a tornado.

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These straight-line winds, which can cause tornado-like damages, lasted up to 15 minutes and had wind speeds of 75 mph, NWS said. Hundreds of trees and wires had been knocked down from Atholton Park to the Oakland Mills neighborhood, both in Columbia.

It started in the vicinity of Old Columbia Road, where a hardwood tree was uprooted, and moved over Patuxent Freeway before reaching the park area. There were considerable debris, some trees had been uprooted, snapped or branches broken off in addition to fallen chimneys, according to NWS, but there were no structural damages observed to homes.

The Stevens Forest Road and Cradlerock Way area sustained the brunt force of the thunderstorm and was where hundreds of trees had been destroyed. Fallen trees and severe wind gusts had also damaged residential structures, according to NWS.

A fence was also blown over near Stevens Forest Elementary School and Camelback Lane, and a large tree limb was seen pierced through the roof of a residence in the area too, according to NWS.

The Kendall Ridge area also likely experienced straight-line wind damage. Some trees had been uprooted and numerous 3 to 6 inch tree branches had been snapped in the densely forested area of the bike trail. There was no damage to nearby residences or other structures, according to NWS.

Storm damage reports from the weather service showed several downed trees in the Howard County area, including in Ellicott City, where a tree struck power lines at the intersection of Route 40 and Tyson Road. County officials held a news conference about the storm damage Thursday morning.

“The impact of yesterday’s storm was felt in Ellicott City and across our county at Merriweather Post Pavilion,” County Executive Calvin Ball said at the conference. “Heavy rainfall caused minor flooding and concert attendees had to be evacuated to higher ground.”

After experiencing weather delays, the Wednesday night Halsey Concert at Merriweather was canceled. The Pavillion, located in Columbia, sent out a tweet at 10:02 p.m. notifying attendees of the cancelation. The tweet also stated that attendees should be receiving information from Ticketmaster or wherever they received the tickets from.

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However, in an earlier tweet, the Pavilion said the concert was going to happen “rain or shine.”

Audrey Fix Schaefer, a spokesperson for the Pavilion, said the decision to cancel the show was made to ensure the safety of the artist, crew and attendees. She said the storm “struck more intensely and lasted longer than anticipated.”

Schaefer added that the Pavilion provided cover for everyone to shelter-in-place.

“It was everyone’s sincere hope that the show would go on, but ultimately the decision was made to cancel the show,” Schaefer said.

Additionally, flash flood warnings were issued Wednesday night for parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County, including in historic Ellicott City, an area that has seen two devastating floods in recent years. Main Street was closed as a precaution for a few hours but reopened around 10:30 p.m. No reports of severe flooding had been made at that time.

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State Del. Courtney Watson, who represents Ellicott City, tweeted that a shop owner in Old Ellicott City reported that flood sirens went off but “everything is ok.”

“A little flood pool in Lot D but that’s it. A few trees down. Culverts are racing but doing exactly what they should be doing,” she wrote.

Howard County Police Department reportednumerous road closures throughout the county, mostly in Columbia, Ellicott and Elkridge areas, because of flooding or downed trees.

“Please avoid driving tonight or use caution if you must,” the department said.

Mark Miller, a spokesperson for Howard County, said officials are are out accessing conditions and damages in Ellicott City.

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In addition to the storm damage in central Maryland, a Westminster home was struck by lightening early Thursday. There were no reported injuries.

Baltimore County Emergency Management officials also asked motorists to avoid driving in the southwest part of the county. There weremultiple reports of cars stuck in floodwater in Gywnn Oak and Catonsville, BCEM said.

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High temperatures for Wednesday and Thursday are in the 80s.

Baltimore Sun reporters Caitlyn Freeman and Christine Condon contributed to this article.


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