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September 24, 2001 Tornadoes
map of all tornado paths
Summary by Barbara Watson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist
National Weather Service, Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office

National Weather Service - Early Products issued
Severe Weather Outlook (WBCSPSLWX) specifically mentioning the threat for tornadoes was issued at 4:00 am EDT and again at 11:09 am EDT
Tornado Watch #758 (WBCSLSDC) was issued at 1:30 pm for the entire area which was later impacted and a follow-up Special Weather Statement discussing the Tornado Watch was issued at 2:03 pm EDT.



.... Storm # 1  Culpeper-Fauquier-Loudoun ...

First Tornado Warning was issued at 2:36 pm EDT for Culpeper County.
Second Tornado Warning was issued at 308 pm for Northern Culpeper and Central Fauquier County.
Tornado   #   1  Time:                 3:03  to 3:25  p.m. EDT
F-scale:         4 Est. Max Wind: 200 - 225 mph
Path Length:  10 miles Path Width:        75 yards
Deaths:          0  Injuries:              2

NWS Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office Storm Damage Survey Team: Steve Zubrick and Michelle Margraf
Description:
        A tornado touched down in Rixeyville blowing a tree into a home on Route 640. It moved 2 miles northeast and rapidly intensified as it hit a solidly constructed 3-level brick home on Indian Fork road.  At 3:07 pm, the tornado leveled the house carrying large debris up to a half mile away. The tornado was rated at the lower end of a F4 (estimated maximum winds of 207 to 225 mph). From here, the tornado moved on to Jeffersonton at 3:15 pm where it moved through a trailer park on the south side. Three trailers were destroyed and four more were damaged. Two people were injured. Four churches in Jeffersonton were damaged and significant tree damage occurred along the path. The tornado was rated at the lower end of F2 strength (estimated max winds of 115 to 130 mph) in Jeffersonton. Northeast of Jeffersonton, the tornado demolished a garage and porch of a two story house along with part of its roof. An adjacent house also lost the roof to a sun room.
        As the tornado continued north it was weakening. It crossed the Rappahannock River as a F1 tornado into Fauquier County (3:19 pm) taking the roof off a barn and damaging some trees. The tornado appeared to have weakened to F0 or lifted by the time it reached Route 211 and the track was lost. The track on the ground to this point was 10 miles with an average path width of only 75 yards.
rixeyville-jeffersonton path
trailers-jeffersonton
 Destroyed Trailers south of Jeffersonton.  Photos by Steve Zubrick, NWS
rixeyville house destroyed
rixeyville house destroyed
 House 2 miles northeast of Rixeyville. Photos by Steve Zubrick, NWS
jefferston house damaged House in Jeffersonton lost part of roof and sunroom.  Photos by Steve Zubrick, NWS

Third Tornado Warning was issued at 345 pm for Northern and Central Fauquier County.
Fourth Tornado Warning was issued at 400 pm for Northern Fauquier and Central and Western Loudoun County.
Tornado   #   2 Time:                 3:49 to 4:03  p.m. EDT
F-scale:         1 Est. Max Wind:  90 - 110
Path Length:  6 miles Path Width:        50 to 100 yards
Deaths:          0  Injuries:              0

Storm Survey by NWS Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office Survey Team: Steve Zubrick and Michelle Margraf
Description:
        The another tornado descended out of the Rixeyville storm at about 3:50 pm just west of The Plains and struck a house near the intersection of John Marshall Highway (Route 55) and Bunker Hill Road. The tornado caused extensive tree and power line damage around the home and ripped the porch off depositing it about 50 feet away. Lumber pieces from the porch were hurled into nearby vehicles. A small pool house was destroyed. Two other homes nearby had damage. The tornado was rated a F1 with estimated winds between 80 and 110 mph. As the tornado moved north-northeast Whitewood Road, most of the damage was to trees. The tornado weakened to an F-0 (winds 50 to 70 mph) by the time it crossed Rock Hill Road and headed toward Middleburg.  The total path was about 6 miles long.
 
plains-middleburg path house in plains damaged
plains house damage
 House near bunker Hill and Route 55.   Photos by Steve Zubrick, NWS

 


... Storm # 2 Stafford-Prince William-Fairfax-Arlington-DC-Prince Georges-Howard ...


Fifth Tornado Warning was issued at 4:09 pm EDT  for Stafford and Prince William Counties in Virginia.
Tornado   #   3 Time:                 4:10 to 4:32 p.m. EDT
F-scale:         0 Est. Max Wind:  50 - 70
Path Length:  11 Path Width:        50 - 100 yds
Deaths:          0  Injuries:              0
Storm Survey by NWS Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office Survey Team: Steve Zubrick and Barbara Watson
Description:
        A person called the Stafford County 911 center sighting the funnel cloud near Garrisonville at 4:08.   It moved onto Quantico Marine Base and touched down. Fortunately, It was only F0 strength (50 to 70 mph). It took down a scattering of trees along its path through the base and was witnessed passing about a quarter a mile was of the fire station on the base. It then moved north-northeast into Prince William County at 4:19 pm EDT passing (or skipping) through the Prince William Forest Park. It was still an F0. It passed through the Lake Montclair Community where it took down a few trees, broke branches on others and bent up some siding on a home. The tornado path was only about 75 yards or less across. The tornado tracked about 4.5 miles in Stafford County and about 6.5 miles in Prince William County for a total of 11 miles though it may not have been on the ground the entire time.

Sixth Tornado Warning was issued at 4:53 pm EDT for Eastern Fairfax  and Arlington Counties, Alexandria, Falls Church and the District of Columbia.
Tornado   #   4 Time:                 4:44 to 5:12 p.m. EDT
F-scale:         1 Est. Max Wind:  90 - 110
Path Length:   15 miles Path Width:        75 - 100 yds
Deaths:          0  Injuries:              0

Storm Survey by NWS Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office Survey Team: Barbara Watson, Neal Dipasquale, and Steve Zubrick
Description:
        The thunderstorm dropped its second tornado near Newington Road just west of Fort Belvior in Fairfax County at about 4:44 pm. The tornado was weak but long lasting. It would oscillate between F0 winds (50-70 mph) were it would damage tree branches and carry around light debris to F1 strength (max winds 80 to 100 mph) where it would uproot or snap trees and cause some exterior damage to homes and roofs. The tornado skipped along moving north-northeast. It passed through Franconia (F1) damaging several townhomes and then damaged a lot of trees off Brookland Drive in Franconia. It moved into the City of Alexandria at about 4:55 pm EDT.  It was F0 as moved across much of western Alexandria but strengthened back to F1 as it neared Shirlington and then passed into Arlington County (4:59 pm EDT) and moved up to the Pentagon City Mall. At 5:02 pm, the neighborhood just south of Pentagon City was hardest hit by this tornado with large trees down, utility poles down and some damage to a couple house roofs.
        The tornado passed the Pentagon City Mall taking the I-395 Pentagon exit sign and hurling it through the air. Its last act as it was weakening to F0. It crossed the Potomac River at the 14th Street Bridge. At about 5:06 pm, the tornado was seen moving into the District of Columbia. Now a thin funnel in its rope stage. It passed the Jefferson Memorial and crossed the Tidal Basin snapping tree branches. It was seen passing just south of the Washington Monument, headed for the Smithsonians and the Capitol. Fortunately it was only strong enough at this point to swirl trash and leaves and break a few branches. The Funnel broke off near the Capitol. The funnel cloud continued to be observed as the storm moved northeast across McMillan Reservior. Soon it would touch down again and hit College Park. The total track length was about 15 miles long.
franconia-dc tornado path damaged house in fairfax
 Window broken on house and tree damage around yard. 
Picture taken by Fairfax County Emergency Management.

Seventh Tornado Warning was issued at 5:10 pm EDT for Northern Prince Georges and Southeastern Montgomery Counties.  Warning indicated College Park at 5:20 pm and Beltsville at 5:24 pm.
Eighth Tornado Warning was issued at 5:31 pm EDT for Southeast Howard and Extreme Northwest Anne Arundel Counties.  The tornado entered Howard County at 5:42 pm EDT.
Tornado   #   5 Time:                  5:19 to 5:54 p.m. EDT
F-scale:         3 Est. Max Wind:  150 - 200 mph
Path Length:  17.5 miles Path Width:        100 - 200 yards
Deaths:          2  Injuries:              50+

Storm Survey by NWS Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office Survey Team: Barbara Watson and Jim Travers
Description:
        Thunderstorm moved out of the District of Columbia and dropped another tornado. This one became violent as it moved into the University of Maryland Campus at 5:22 pm. Heavy damage began at Adelphi and University Blvd. The tornado struck 10 trailers (being used as temporary facility for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute) and tore them to pieces. One trailer bottom was carried 200 yards into some trees. A car carrying two young females students (sisters) was hurrled several hundred yards and over a high-rise 8 story dormatory. The ladies were sadly killed. The nearby buildings took damage to windows, doors, trim, and roof and showed marks of where airborne missiles struck the buildings but did not punch through. The tornado was rated F3 at this point (Max winds 175 to 200 mph) and was believed to have two vortices.
Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute after the tornado
All that is left of the Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute after the tornado. 
Photo by Kay Grahm, Prince Georges County Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Little is left of what was once 10 trailers that temporarily housed the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute
Little is left of what was once 10 trailers that temporarily housed the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. Photo by Kay Grahm, Prince Georges County Office of Emergency Preparedness.
        Behind the dorms, the tornado crossed a student parking lot tossing cars on top of one another and into trees which it flattened. The tornado left College Park where it had done $15 million in damages to the University and headed north crossing the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Research Center. Here it did an estimated $41 million in damages to buildings and lost research. The tornado continued north through Beltsville between I-95 and U.S. Route 1 damaging homes, businesses, and schools. It was still F2 (max winds up to 150 mph) strength...a significant tornado.
University of Maryland parking lot. Cars were flipped and tossed by the tornado
University of Maryland parking lot. Cars were flipped and tossed by the tornado.
Photo by Kay Grahm, Prince Georges County Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Church bus tossed into some trees. Church off Route 1 in Beltsville area
 Church bus tossed into some trees. Church off Route 1 in Beltsville area. 
Photo by Kay Grahm, Prince Georges County Office of Emergency Preparedness.
        The tornado hit the heart of Laurel at 5:39 pm (as captured on video). It cut a path through the city just west of the downtown area. One vortex briefly reached back up into the F3 strength as it tore the roof off of a wing of the Laurel High School and then destroyed a single level house in the neighborhood behind the school.  Moving out of Laurel, it crossed from Prince George's County into Howard County. Here it was still F2 strength and it damage 43 townhomes. It began to weaken to F1 (max winds 90 to 110 mph) as it moved north through new and old neighborhoods west of Savage, Maryland. It continued to weaken as it crossed I-95 at route 32 (max winds 70 to 90 mph). The last known damage from the tornado was seen in Columbia at Snowden River Parkway and Patuxent Parkway.
Tornado is west of College Park Airport near University
 Photo by Langston Majette.  Tornado is west of College Park Airport near University.
Side of brick building in Beltsville blown out by tornado
Side of brick building in Beltsville blown out by tornado.
Photo by Kay Grahm, Prince Georges County Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Downtown Laurel building lost roof and took other damage by tornado
Downtown Laurel building lost roof and took other damage by tornado.
Photo by Kay Grahm, Prince Georges County Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Roof gone from Laurel High School in Laurel.
Roof gone from Laurel High School in Laurel.
Copyright 2001, The Baltimore Sun, Photo by Kenneth Lam
        This was 17.5 miles from its touch down point. The path width ranged from a narrow 50 yards to 200 yards and probably averaged around 150 yards. Damages to Prince Georges County were 861 residential homes damaged, 560 vehicles damaged, and at least 23 commercial businesses. Damages to the county were estimated at $16 million but would likely go up. Howard County likely saw another million in damage. Add this to the $41 million to USDA and $15 million to the Universtiy and it comes to over $73 million dollars in damages. Two people were killed and over 50 injured. A video from the Fire and Rescue Institute was found near Ellicott City (about 25 miles away), IDs were found in Monkton (about 45 miles away) and papers were found in a field in Northwest Harford County (about 60 miles away).
collegepark-beltsville tornado path collegepark-laurel tornado path


Last updated 10/5/01 BMW

 


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