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Tornado in Leitersburg confirmed

May 28, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a weak tornado whipped through Leitersburg late Tuesday afternoon with winds of 80 to 90 mph, knocking down trees and peeling back a barn roof.

Witnesses reported a loud roar similar to that of a jet engine as the tornado crossed Clopper Road, bringing with it up to quarter-size hail, according to a National Weather Service report.

Other parts of Washington County received damage from a severe thunderstorm that also downed trees and knocked out power.

Allegheny Power spokesman Allen Staggers said power was restored by Thursday afternoon to all 4,100 customers who lost it during Tuesday's storm.

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Power could have been back on for all customers on Wednesday, but emergency services and road crews asked Allegheny Power to stay away while they cleaned up, Staggers said.

Municipalities will not receive federal financial assistance for cleaning up after the storm because the county hasn't been declared a disaster area by the federal government, said Ed McDonough, deputy public information officer for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

McDonough said the governor would have had to request a federal disaster declaration, but no such request has been made.

Tornado damage to properties would be covered under homeowners' insurance, he said.

The Leitersburg tornado, classified as an F1, formed at about 5:37 p.m. and dissipated at approximately 5:45 p.m. It had a width of 100 yards and traveled one to one and a half miles, according to a National Weather Service report.

A F1 tornado has estimated wind speeds of 73 to 112 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Such tornadoes last an average of five to 10 minutes, the weather service said.

The tornado traveled from northwest to southeast and peeled back a roof from a barn off Millers Church Road near Leitersburg Pike, west of Leitersburg.

As it traveled southeast, it knocked down trees along Clopper Road and Herman Myers Road between Leitersburg Pike and Old Forge Road, the weather service's report says.

Several homes and structures on Clopper Road were damaged from falling trees.

McDonough said the state would have provided trucks or work crews to help Washington County clean up storm debris if the county had requested assistance.

A weak tornado with wind speeds between 50 to 60 mph also touched down four miles northwest of Wolfsville, Md., in Frederick County. Another tornado with wind speeds of 40 to 50 mph hit northern Loudoun County, Va., the weather service said.

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