Weather threat sunday

April 29, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

A tornado watch was posted for the Eastern Panhandle Sunday, but the only sightings of tornadoes were near New Market, Va., and Charles and Calvert counties in Maryland, said local emergency and weather officials.

Although weather officials were still assessing the situation in Charles and Calvert counties Sunday night, there were instances of "houses knocked down," said Chris Strong, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

At about 4:45 p.m. Sunday, a tornado touched down near Interstate 81 in the New Market area, Strong said.

The tornado damaged four houses and caused a tractor-trailer accident on I-81, Strong said.

The tornado that struck in New Market and Maryland may have been the same, Strong said.

New Market is south of Martinsburg between Winchester, Va., and Harrisonburg, Va.

A tornado watch was posted for the Eastern Panhandle, but it expired at 9 p.m. with no sightings of a tornado, weather and local emergency officials said.


In Morgan County, a tornado warning was issued but it was later downgraded to a tornado watch, said 911 dispatcher Jimmy Pearce.

A woman in southern Morgan County reported seeing a "very dark cloud" spinning, but it was later determined that it was probably not related to a tornado, Pearce said.

There were bursts of high winds in the Eastern Panhandle Sunday afternoon as an incoming cold front began mixing with warm, humid conditions, Strong said.

A tree fell in the Gerrardstown, W.Va., area and a utility pole was lifted partially out of the ground behind Berkeley Heights Elementary School on South Queen Street in Martinsburg, although it was unclear whether the incidents were weather related, rescue officials said.

In McCumbee's mobile home park on Valley Road near Berkeley Springs, W.Va., a tree fell on some utility lines above two homes, Pearce said.

Volunteer firefighters were at the scene Sunday afternoon waiting for Allegheny Power crews to arrive, Pearce said.

Numerous trees were reported down in Jefferson County, a dispatcher there said.

In LaPlata, Md., one person was killed after a tornado touched down in Charles County in southern Maryland on Sunday, damaging buildings, flipping cars and downing power lines in LaPlata, a county spokeswoman said.

Helicopters picked up wounded on a nearby road that was being used as a landing strip. The tornado ripped off the roof of a shopping center. A gas station and church nearby were destroyed.

The tornado hit about 7 p.m. and caused serious damage to at least a 10-mile stretch from LaPlata to Hughesville in Charles County.

"It just started tearing up everything," said Shawn Murphy, who was delivering pizzas when he saw part of a funnel cloud.

Gov. Parris Glendening activated the state's emergency management administration to deal with the aftermath, said Mike Morrill, the governor's spokesman.

- The Associated Press contribiuted to this report.

The Herald-Mail Articles