Archive - La Plata Tornado Anniversary

April 24, 2016


Each Sunday we present a notable item from our archives. This EPOD was originally publishedApril 28, 2003.

Referred by: Ted Dutcher
Summary authors & editors: Kevin Ambrose; Ted Dutcher

The photo above shows the powerful tornado that struck the town of La Plata, Maryland on April 28, 2002, one year ago today. This was one of the strongest tornadoes to ever hit the state of Maryland. The National Weather Service said the winds reached F4 on the Fujita scale (winds of 207 to 260 mph, or 331 to 416 km per hour) as it moved through La Plata. Five people were killed and at least 120 were injured. Not only were lives lost and buildings leveled (even one brick building), but bark was stripped off numerous trees, and one resident of La Plata reported a hailstone the size of a grapefruit went through his front windshield while he was driving in the storm. Property damage was estimated in excess of $100 million. At the time of this photo, the tornado had just moved over the Chesapeake Bay. Eyewitnesses said the tornado funnel later turned white, presumably as it pulled water up into its circulation from the Bay. The tornado stayed on the ground for nearly 70 miles (112 km) as it sped along at 45-55 mph (72 -88 km per hour). See also the Earth Science Picture of the Day for May 1, 2002, and May 10, 2002.

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