Three Dead From Southern Maryland Tornado.
April 29, 2002 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Three Dead From Southern Maryland Tornado. This is the kind of news story you skip because it doesn't happen in your state. It didn't even register to me until I realized that one of my daily reads - Moire - lives in La Plata. The twister went through her front yard. Her account of the storm and its aftermath is pretty powerful. Were any other bloggers involved? (It's my first post; be gentle.)
posted by web-goddess (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
her life in a nutshell details her families' experience with the tornado.

We live right across the Potomac from Charles County and all we got was rain and a little bit of hail. It's weird how a couple of miles and a river can make such a big difference.
posted by SuzySmith at 7:42 PM on April 29, 2002

funny you should post this, kris, i actually got stuck driving through it on my way from DC to VA—the connecting flight on the way back from my sista's wedding didn't exactly connect so i shelled out a C-note for a friggin one-way rental. i kept hearing the emergency alert system announce the storm on the radio but didn't know how it was going to affect me, considering i had little clue as to which counties i was driving through.

about a half hour into my drive, the storm hit in earnest with intense rain and golf ball-sized hail. despite the fact that i was scared to death by the possibility of the car getting picked up and tossed by the tornado, stubborn me kept on driving. i imagined the scene over and over again in my head—the car flying off at a bizarre angle and me getting tossed about inside like a rattle, like one of those awful dreams i always have—but i was already so exhausted and just wanted to get home.

so after another half hour of cold sweats and some serious internal debate, i finally made it through to the other side where the sky was clear and the sun was shining, a stark and somewhat sudden contrast to what had just passed over.
posted by brigita at 7:54 PM on April 29, 2002

Driving a rental car into the baseball-sized hail of a tornado sounds far more sensible than driving one's own car. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:19 PM on April 29, 2002

It's my first post

And a splendid one it is. Welcome.
posted by Optamystic at 9:22 PM on April 29, 2002

This is amazing to me simply because it was an F5 tornado in MARYLAND. Very rare for conditions to work out for that part of the country to get such powerful thunderstorms. Hell, it is very rare for the plains to see an F5 tornado.

Driving a rental car into the baseball-sized hail of a tornado sounds far more sensible than driving one's own car. :-)

That is why storm chasers have a chase vehicle. Preferably something that you already think is ugly so maybe the hailstones will improve it.
posted by bargle at 9:39 PM on April 29, 2002

posted by delmoi at 9:57 PM on April 29, 2002

Thanks for the link, Suzy. Lynda's story was amazing.

I was trying to explain to my Australian boyfriend the other day how incredibly safe the area of the Midwest where I grew up is. We don't have deadly snakes, sharks, or spiders, and there aren't any big mammals that'll have a go. (You could hit a deer with your car, i guess.) Tornadoes are the one thing I forgot about. Sure, we did the drill in school every year, but I never actually thought I (or anybody else I know) would be in one. I can't imagine huddling in your basement waiting for the house to be torn down over your head. And then to have your whole town just destroyed... Incredibly devastating. I'm hoping the Red Cross will put up a donation page or something.

(PS - Thanks, Optamystic. I've lurked for a long time, but FPPing is incredibly stressful. I kept refreshing and waiting for the MeFi police to bust me for something.)
posted by web-goddess at 10:27 PM on April 29, 2002

The Moire read is plain, restrained, homespun gold. Thanks.
posted by Opus Dark at 10:43 PM on April 29, 2002

i'm in annapolis, which isn't terribly close as far as i know, but my boyfriend's outdoor play was canceled because of the thunderstorm that rolled on through town. it was exciting, as i'm originally from oregon and the only weather i know is rain.

I kept refreshing and waiting for the MeFi police to bust me for something

for you. welcome. it was a great post.
posted by pikachulolita at 11:29 PM on April 29, 2002

Agreed. Great first post. And it's great to see for once no one giving a newbie a hard time. This is MeFi community at its finest. =)

I live in the mouth of Tornado Alley. Down stage center of the annual display the elementals perform for us lowly mortals. Smack between and south of the Appalachians and Rocky Mountains, it should be frightening, and some nights it is. In fact just a few hours ago meteorologists kept interrupting prime time programming warning about thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches. Yet once again I haven't awoken to find myself in the Land of Oz. Oh wait. That's Kansas, isn't it? Or is that Australia?

Nothing happened this time, but not many days ago there was some damage and lives lost just north of where I live. It happens every year. I suppose most Texans think of tornadoes much the same way people on the west coast see earthquakes. In Florida it's hurricanes. Colorado or Utah perhaps it's avalanches. Pretty much anywhere one lives there's the danger of environment taking revenge on you personally for all those burger wrappings you tossed out the car window nonchalantly. Or maybe it mistakes you for that buttwipe in the car next to you. Gaia's stormy hands don't seem very selective, yet she's been known to skip that house, and skip this house, only to come after you.

Potentially terrifying? Sure! But efforts can be made to minimize the danger and prepare for the worst and then you just go on and live your life, hoping fate doesn't select you for nature's game of russian roulette. We always think it's something that happens to someone else. I guess that's one way we each avoid going stark raving mad with fear.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:43 AM on April 30, 2002

THAT took me back. Palm Sunday, age 11, shaking from top to toe, face mashed into the concrete block wall by the weight of my mother who was repeating over and over "Hail Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death".
posted by quonsar at 4:41 AM on April 30, 2002

Whew. I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland -- right outside of DC. Can anyone explain where the tornado's path went, and how far it was from major landmarks? I haven't been able to pull up much info.

Great first post.
posted by jragon at 9:30 AM on April 30, 2002

Check out the zoomable aerial image of the devistation. I'd heard the news reports of the dead in La Plata yesterday, but I was shocked when I saw the aerial image on the front page of the Post today. It's a wonder more people weren't killed.
posted by crunchland at 10:20 AM on April 30, 2002

Thanks Crunchland. That zoomable image is interesting (and a nice use of QTVR).
posted by Dick Paris at 10:40 AM on April 30, 2002

Not really near DC, jragon. La Plata is 30 miles due south in Charles County; the twister seems to've hit there then headed east into Calvert and Dorchester counties. (Here's a map of Maryland counties which might be useful; La Plata is marked on it too.) I live in the District, and it thunderstormed like mad for a while on Sunday, but a vaguely green tint to the sky was the closest we came to a tornado here. has a story summing up the weekend's tornadoes and it looks like other than the one that got La Plata, the next closest ones were in the northern panhandle of West Virginia and near Pittsburgh.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:00 AM on April 30, 2002

Moire has discovered that the Red Cross has set up a victim's fund with a site for donations.
posted by web-goddess at 6:34 PM on April 30, 2002

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