BALTIMORE (WJZ) — People were still working Monday to remove downed tress in the northern part of Charles County, after a Category F-1 tornado touched down Saturday afternoon, with winds of 90 mph.
The tornado ripped shingles off roofs and cracked a few walls.
It was strong enough to topple a brick-mounted church sign, and snap the tops of off trees, while knocking others flat.
Forecasts were warning one might touch down, and first responders were prepared.
“We’ve had some experience with tornadoes in the past so we’re always a little leery of them when we get reports that there might be,” says Lt. Chris Schmidt, of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2002 an F-5 with winds of over 200 mph ripped apart the town of La Plata.
The business district was leveled, dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed and three people were killed.
A reminder that Saturday’s tornado could have been worse.
“Having experienced an F-5 tornado, yes, we were very lucky comparatively speaking,” according to Lt. Schmidt. “No one was injured.”
But the storm was still nothing to take lightly.
Charles Thompson saw it happen. A number of cars with shattered windshield and windows were pulled off the street.
While all that glass was breaking, people were inside.
“Everybody was running, trying to run for cover,” Thompson says. “It happened so fast. They couldn’t get out. Cuz stuff was flying everywhere, you had metal signs just slinging through the air. And it was dark, you couldn’t hardly, you know, you couldn’t see. There was hail coming down.”
Charles County Police estimate the tornado traveled about eight miles and caused only minor property damage.
WJZ Meteorologist Chelsea Ingram says tornadoes in February in Maryland are extremely rare — there have only been four since 1950. Three of those have been since 2014.