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Tornado warning stirs up concerns

July 10, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County residents were told to take cover in basements of homes and buildings Wednesday afternoon after a tornado warning was issued for the area beginning at 1:41 p.m., officials said.

The tornado warning was issued for Jefferson County when a "circulating mass" of clouds was detected near the Middleway area west of Charles Town, emergency officials said.

No tornado touched down, but there was a report of a roof being blown off a house in Clarke County, Va., just over the West Virginia line, emergency officials said.

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It was unclear whether the call was related to any tornado, said Jeff Polczynski, director of communications for Jefferson County.

Clarke County dispatchers said they did not have any information about the call.

Although the house was in Clarke County, Jefferson County Sheriff's personnel were going to check on the house, dispatchers said.

The circulating mass was spotted four miles southwest of Middleway and traveling east at 25 mph, Polczynski said.

The mass was capable of producing a tornado at any time, said Andy Woodcock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va.

Polczynski, who oversees the county's 911 center, said he broadcast the tornado warning over his department's radio channels. Polczynski said National Weather Service officials urged him to warn county residents to "take cover."

Residents were told to go into basements of homes or buildings, and if there were no basements in the structures, to go to an interior room on the ground floor where there are no windows, Polczynski said.

Some workers in local offices took cover in lower levels of the buildings. Others went outside to see if they could spot something, a local police officer said.

The tornado warning, which did not extend to Berkeley County, was in effect until 2:30 p.m., Woodcock said.

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