Tropical Storm Isaias causes tornadoes on Eastern Shore, heavy rainfall throughout the state

Tornadoes were spotted in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore Tuesday morning as the National Weather Service after Tropical Storm Isaias brought heavy rainfall and wind Tuesday morning.

The National Weather Service wrote at 11:23 a.m. that Isaias was “quickly moving away” from Maryland and that strong winds and rainfall should end over the next few hours.


When the storm first made landfall early Tuesday, officials began reporting isolated tornadoes in some areas of the Eastern Shore and southern Maryland, leading to some downed trees causing damage to nearby homes.

According to the National Weather Service, a trained spotter reported a tornado touched down in Callaway, Maryland at 6:46 a.m. and that multiple trees were reported down, falling on to cars in the area. The report corrected a previous release that said a tornado was spotted in California, Maryland at the same time.


At 6:01 a.m., a tornado was spotted near Vienna in Dorchester County heading north at 35 mph, the National Weather Service confirmed.

At 7:20 a.m., NWS wrote a radar-confirmed tornado was spotted north of Girdletree in Worcester County heading north at 65 mph.

In Salisbury in Wicomico County, the city’s fire department is reporting multiple trees and power lines down, including at least two trees that struck homes.

Salisbury Fire Department units on scene with a tree into a house on Shawnee Ave. Use caution in the area!

Posted by Salisbury Fire Department on Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Salisbury Fire Department units on scene with a tree into a house on King Richard Court. Use caution in the area!

Posted by Salisbury Fire Department on Tuesday, August 4, 2020

NWS wrote at 8:40 a.m. that the storm was moving north-northeast at 33 mph and “will exit the Chesapeake Bay by midday.” Rainfall was forecast to be around three to six inches, with the highest amounts “expected over the I-95 corridor through early afternoon.”

Around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, 17,329 BGE customers in Anne Arundel County were without power, the most of any jurisdiction in the state. Baltimore City as well as a handful of other counties also reported isolated power outages.

Parts of Maryland were under a tornado watch until noon, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Calvert, St. Mary’s, Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties along with Baltimore city. The watch cautioned about the possibility of a few tornadoes, isolated hail the size of small marbles and isolated gusts up to 65 mph.

Isaias, a storm on a path to sweep up the length of the East Coast, was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane late Monday night shortly before it made landfall in the Carolinas, the National Weather Service said. It was downgraded back to a tropical storm shortly after 4 a.m.

“Tropical storm conditions [winds to 40 mph or greater] are possible as far west as I-95 given lingering track uncertainty, but more likely closer to Southern Maryland’s bay shore,” weather service meteorologists said.


Parts of Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore could see gusts of wind up to 60 mph Tuesday, with sustained winds ranging from 30 mph to 40 mph, Chris Strong, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Sunday.

He said Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) could bring tropical storm conditions to the state, with current forecasts suggesting that Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore are the most at risk. Local flooding and heavy rainfall are concerns, especially in those areas, Strong said.

The Maryland Transportation Authority tweeted at 4:42 a.m. to be prepared for wind warnings, restrictions and the potential for temporary traffic holds at MDTA bridges.

Isaias made landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane touched down just after 11 p.m. Monday with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.

Maryland’s counties and municipalities spent Monday making preliminary preparations, checking forecasts to see whether the storm will stay inland or move back out to sea.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said the emergency management team was “closely monitoring” the storm.


“We understand that any storm can cause anxiety for our residents and businesses — especially those in Historic Ellicott City,” he said in an emailed statement. “We are proactively working with Howard EcoWorks to inspect and remove debris from channels in the Ellicott City Watershed.”

Lt. Kevin Simmons, the director of the Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, said city officials spoke with the state Sunday about storm preparation in anticipation of heavy rainfall Monday night into Tuesday.

He said the city was reviewing its planning operations ahead of the hurricane season, as the COVID-19 pandemic may require changes to mass shelter plans to be compliant with current social distancing guidelines.

He added that the city has updated its 400-person roster of vulnerable residents to make sure it can contact the elderly and bedridden residents who may need help if the storm knocks out power for several days.

“People have a lot of things etched in their minds right,” Simmons said. “But you also have to know that we’re in hurricane season as well, so you have to make sure you have [an emergency] kit.”

Most of the state has a “slight,” or 10% chance of seeing some flash flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center. Parts of Western Maryland are less at risk, with only a 5% risk.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Saturday that its Emergency Operations Center has been activated to prepare for potential impacts from the hurricane in Maryland, primarily with efforts to reduce the risk of flooding in the region.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency activated its pre-landfall planning team in anticipation of the tropical storm.

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration spent Monday clearing ditches, pipes and inlets to ensure proper drainage.

MDOT SHA’s Coordinated Highways Accident Response Team, C.H.A.R.T Emergency Patrols, planned to be out during the storm assisting motorists.

Meteorologists at the weather service’s forecast office that covers Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore said the track “will have big implications” for areas from Virginia Beach to Ocean City and the lower Delmarva Peninsula.

They said the main impacts in those areas are expected to be heavy rain and gusty winds Monday night into Tuesday afternoon, but added there is still uncertainty depending on Isaias’ path.


Regardless of its exact track, Isaias is expected to take a path that is unusual for a tropical cyclone — especially one with hurricane strength — at this time of year. If hurricanes reach Maryland or points north, it is typically not until September or October. But waters up and down the Eastern Seaboard are unusually warm.

Isaias is the latest storm in a hurricane season that has repeatedly set records for its early activity. It is the earliest ninth named storm to form in the Atlantic on record. There are a dozen named storms during an entire Atlantic hurricane season, on average.

This season’s 10th storm, to be named Josephine, is likely to be record-setting, too, if it comes before Aug. 22, the day Jose formed in 2005.

Baltimore Sun reporters Hallie Miller and Phil Davis contributed to this article.