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Severe storm whips through Boonsboro area

August 27, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

BOONSBORO - The National Weather Service is investigating whether a severe storm that swept south of Boonsboro Thursday actually spawned a tornado.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there was one," said meteorologist Barbara Watson, who was watching the radar from her Sterling, Va., office when the storm blew through southern Washington County about 3:15 p.m.

At least one area resident reported a funnel cloud with the storm, which ripped a roof off a dairy barn, peeled back the metal roof of a house and downed trees and power lines.

Watson will make a ruling after surveying the damage today, she said.

The weather service had issued a severe storm warning for the area Thursday afternoon, but conditions offered no basis to issue a tornado warning, she said.

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But Watson saw something on the radar that indicated a tornado might be occurring in the area.

The worst part of the storm lasted only a few minutes and brought with it hail, heavy rain and high winds.

Winds peeled back the metal roof of a Dogstreet Road house rented by Meredith and Brigitte Fouche. No one was home at the time.

Water damaged the home's interior plaster walls and ceiling. The computers in each of their two sons' rooms are still drying out, said Meredith Fouche, 48.

"No one was hurt but we do have quite a mess of a house. It's just one of those things none of us likes to deal with, but we seem to be bucking up," he said.

Roofers nailed the roof back down until permanent repairs can be made.

The chimney fell onto the spot where the family cars would have been parked.

On nearby King Road, a roof blew off a dairy barn.

The barn and Fouche's house are owned by farmer Andy Stone, who said he's never seen a storm with such fury.

"For the wind we had, the damage was rather minimal," he said.

Stone, 42, was cutting corn when he saw the sky getting dark and headed for safety. Just after he got to his shop, it began to hail and rain so hard that visibility was no more than 15 feet.

Stone, who was surveying the damage Friday, said several calf hutches were found about a mile away.

The winds came from the west and flattened trees and fences.

However, the plastic liners from several cow troughs were found 300 feet in the opposite direction, he said.

Even the rain from the storm, was too late to save the local corn crops from the drought, Stone said.

Between 300 and 500 residents lost power, but nearly all were restored by Friday morning, according to Allegheny Power.

Phone service also was knocked out, residents said.

The last tornado to hit Washington County was June 19, 1998.

The small twister touched down briefly along Hopewell Road between Hagerstown and Williamsport, knocking down several Bradford pear trees down and 10 larger trees in nearby Doub's Woods Park, according to the weather service.

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