Tornado Damages Homes, Severs Power in Maryland

A severe storm that swept through Maryland Thursday evening spawned a tornado in Severna Park, uprooted trees, damaged homes and left thousands without power, authorities said.

One person sustained a minor injury.

James Brotherton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said a tornado hit Severna Park. It touched down about 6:35 p.m.

Pam Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County Emergency Operations Center, said a tornado touched down on either side in Cattail Creek in Severna Park.

Damage was reported in the lower Magothy Beach area of Severna Park, according to Rhonda Wardlaw, a spokeswoman for Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens. At least five homes were struck by downed trees in that vicinity, police said.

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"We have two confirmed touch downs (of tornadoes)," Wardlaw told The (Baltimore) Sun. "We don't know the extent of the damage."

At the Severna Park MarketPlace shopping center, shopping cart corrals were blown apart or crumpled, and the carts scattered.

Two teenagers were riding in a car south on Ritchie Highway said they saw a funnel cloud form.

"I could see the transformers blowing out as it touched down," James Porter, 19, told The Sun.

Porter said he wanted to follow it, but the driver, Chris Hawkins, thought better of it.

"I was freaked out," said Hawkins, also 19. "I didn't want the wind to pick up my car."

In Prince George's County, Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady said Bowie sustained the worst damage in the county, with about two dozen homes with minor to moderate structural damage.

Some 17,000 BGE customers were without power late Thursday, according to the utility's Web site, most of them in Arundel.

A spotter's equipment recorded a wind gust reaching 66 mph at 6:09 p.m. near U.S. 50 in Bowie, where dime-size hail also was reported, the weather service said.

A NWS survey team will visit Severna Park on Friday to survey the area.