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Storm skirts Washington County

other areas hit hard

May 03, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

With flood and tornado watches in effect in Washington County through 9 p.m. Thursday, school and utility company officials were taking no chances.

By late Thursday, however, it appeared the storm had skirted Washington County.

Washington County Public Schools decided at 3 p.m. to cancel all Thursday evening activities in case the bad weather that had been forecast hit the area, said Carol Mowen, public information officer for the school system.

That announcement affected Evening High School and all school sports activities, including baseball and softball games, both home and away.

Allegheny Energy officials said preparations for the predicted storm began early Thursday. All through the day, staff watched The Weather Channel and received information about the storm's possible path through Allegheny's service areas.

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"We also began strategically placing crews in areas where we believed the storm might hit," Allegheny spokeswoman Sandy Kiebler said.

By 6 p.m., it looked as if the storm system was going to swing south of Washington County. "So far, we've been very lucky," Kiebler said.

Kiebler was referring to Thursday's near miss and to the storm that roared through southern Maryland Sunday evening, spawning a tornado which devastated La Plata, Md., and surrounding communities in Charles, Calvert and Dorchester counties.

Other areas weren't as lucky Thursday.

A severe thunderstorm packing high winds and heavy rain moved through northern Maryland on Thursday, damaging homes, uprooting trees and knocking down utility poles.

The storm hit the area just before 6 p.m., National Weather Service officials said. News helicopters showed one house with part of its roof blown off, while other homes had shingles missing.

Several residents reported seeing a tornado briefly touch down near Rising Sun, a small town less than 10 miles south of the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

In Pennsylvania, the National Weather Service said a tornado may have touched down near the borough of Delta in southern York County on Thursday.

The weather service was to send crews to the area today to investigate whether a tornado hit just after 5 p.m., meteorologist Richard Grumm said. The report of the tornado came from the 911 center in York, Grumm said.

There were no reports of serious damage or injuries as of Thursday evening.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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