A driver was killed in St. Mary’s County as Tropical Storm Isaias swept swiftly through Maryland Tuesday morning, spawning tornadoes, causing more than 60,000 power outages and flooding multiple areas as it dumped as much as 9 inches of rain in parts of the state.
Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) struck Southern Maryland in the morning, with a tornado touching down in Callaway in St. Mary’s County shortly before 7 a.m., and traveled north and northeasterly before exiting the state by early afternoon.
But before then, its winds of up to 70 mph and intense downpours sent trees crashing onto cars and homes, overturned several tractor-trailers and closed about three dozen roads.
The driver was killed in Mechanicsville after a large tree fell on their car around 9:30 a.m., according to Cpl. Julie Yingling, a spokeswoman for the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office. There were no other passengers in the car, which had been traveling southbound on Three Notch Road near Charlotte Hall School Road when it was struck, Yingling said.
It took rescuers several hours to extract the driver whose name was being withheld pending notification of relatives, she said.
Trained weather spotters reported 9 inches of rain in St. Mary’s County, where a family in Leonardtown had to be extricated by rescue crews after trees fell on their home, according to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
Rainfall totals in the Baltimore area ranged from roughly 2.5 to 5 inches, with the highest totals recorded in the southernmost areas near the Chesapeake Bay, said National Weather Service meteorologist Austin Mansfield.
Power went out in the Department of Public Works facility on Back River Neck Road in Baltimore County, as well as two closed schools, said Jay Ringgold, spokesman for the county’s emergency services operations.
Among the areas inundated were North East in Cecil County, where residents became trapped in their houses as fast-moving currents inundated some streets.
Tamra McElwee, 25, was at work in Newark, Delaware, when she saw news coverage of her North East neighborhood and texted her boyfriend back home. He was watching their 2-year-old daughter and seeing the floodwaters rising to the third step and almost onto their porch.
She raced home, but couldn’t get onto her street.
“It was pretty scary,” McElwee said. “My whole front yard and backyard looked like a swimming pool.”
Her boyfriend Tevonn Wilson, 26, said he grabbed their daughter, Emma, and a diaper bag and started to wade through waist-deep water. But all around, he saw rushing water, a flooded bridge and stalling vehicles, so he accepted a ride back home by a couple in an SUV, who also gave him a life jacket.
Members of the North East Fire Co. picked them up in an inflatable raft around 1 p.m., and they were reunited with McElwee at the nearby Bella Pizza.
Meanwhile, state troopers rescued two drivers who tried to cross Brandywine Road near the border between Charles and Prince George’s counties just before 9 a.m. when rising floodwaters from Swanson Creek swept their vehicles off the street. One driver was transported by ambulance to University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center for treatment.
On the Eastern Shore, two homes in Wicomico County were torn off their foundation, while a tornado touched down in the Girdletree area of Worcester County, damaging homes and three chicken houses, according to MEMA.
The weather service said three separate tornados touched down in Southern Maryland on Tuesday morning, two in St. Mary’s County and the other in Calvert County.
Travel proved hazardous as well: A crash involving three overturned tractor-trailers on the U.S. 50 bridge over the Choptank River in Cambridge was among the 130 incidents the Maryland State Highway Administration responded to during the storm Tuesday, officials said. The drivers were taken to area hospitals, and the bridge was cleared and reopened.
Flash flood and tornado watches and warnings went into effect across the state. But by midafternoon, the weather service said only residual wind gusts and some flooding remained.
Anne Arundel County bore the brunt of the power outages, with 17,329 BGE customers without power by 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the most of any jurisdiction in the state. There were about 2,000 outages each in Baltimore and Harford counties, and 1,200 in Baltimore City. Power had been restored to about 30,000 of the more than 60,000 outages in the state by early Tuesday night.
Gov. Larry Hogan and other officials had called on residents to stay home if possible because flash floods cause dangerous conditions and temporary road and bridge closures.
Lanes of Interstate 95 at the Moravia Road exit ramp in Baltimore and on the inner loop of Interstate 695 at MD 151 in Baltimore County were closed Tuesday morning. Westbound traffic was halted at one point on the Bay Bridge, restrictions on house trailers and empty box trailers were implemented on I-695′s Key Bridge and the I-95 Tydings Bridge, and wind warnings were in effect at the Route 40 Hatem Bridge.
The Maryland Transit Administration diverted several bus routes due to weather conditions. The U.S. Coast Guard prohibited ships from entering or leaving the Port of Baltimore channels.
All COVID-19 testing operations were suspended. Meanwhile, Maryland State Parks closed several day-use areas and campgrounds, and evacuated or relocated some campers in areas likely to be affected by the storm and flooding.
While the tropical storm had passed through the state, scattered showers overnight could cause additional flooding for an already-drenched region, officials said.
“We should be in the clear, except we’ve got some normal summertime showers building in,” said the weather service’s Mansfield “Nothing widespread, but you may see a shower here or there.”
Baltimore Sun Media reporter Taylor DeVille contributed to this article.