Tropical Storm spawned three tornadoes, washed-out bridges, flooded entire neighborhoods and killed at least one person.
by David M. Higgins II, Publisher
Southern Maryland- In a year embroiled in COVID-19 openings and closing, social distancing, and mask regulations, a tropical storm became the joke on social media as the most normal thing. However, it quickly turned from social media jokes to serious and deadly.
A Tornado Watch was issued for Southern Maryland overnight that was lasted until 12 p.m. At 4 am the first Tornado Warning was issued for Central St. Mary’s County. At 4:55 a.m, 6:18 am, 6:41 a.m, & 6:44 a.m the National Weather Service issued four more Warnings for St. Mary’s and Central Charles.
In the flurry of storms cells producing tornadic activity, at 6:27 a.m a trained weather spotter confirmed a tornado touched down in 21900 block of Point Lookout Road in Callaway, MD. The National Weather Service(NWS) also has reports of possible tornadoes in California, MD, and Chesapeake Beach, MD.
In Calvert County, Sarah Ehman, Public Information Program Manager, said,” The full extent of the storm’s impacts are still being assessed, but primarily include downed trees and power lines throughout the county, localized power outages, and roadway flooding. There are no known fatalities[in Calvert County],
we had no confirmed tornados; there are several reports of tree damage to vehicles and homes with a few individuals who needed rescue.”
An EF-1 tornado was confirmed by the NWS touched down in Chesapeake Beach, MD at 7:33 a.m. This tornado is preliminarily classified as an EF-1 with a width of 100 yards and traveled 2.2 miles with peak winds of 90 mph. It was on the ground for four minutes.
“Cleanup is ongoing, as is an assessment of roadways and bridges. Any building damage will need to be inspected. Electric companies are working to restore service”, she continued.
“Citizens should exercise caution while traveling, as sinkholes are appearing after the excessive rain. Residents should NEVER attempt to cut trees that involve power lines and to use caution using generators.”
In Charles County, rescue personnel stayed busy, “Our most serious event was the three life saves on Brandywine Road, We had our Dive Rescue resources and a total of 49 personnel on scene for three hours to recover all three individuals”, said Bill Smith, Charles County Fire/EMS Coordinator Public Information Officer.
Between 6 am and 2 pm yesterday, Charles County Volunteers responded to 146 calls in total, including routine sick calls. ” We were fully staffed at every station yesterday. They are all volunteers with regular jobs, some used personal days to be there,” said Smith.
Charles County did not have any tornadoes nor fatalities from Tropical Storm Isaias.
“We had the normal road closures as a result of floods, however, with the amount of rain that fell so quickly those same roads presented additional challenges for our rescuers.All in all, just like we do on all weather events, the volunteer fire and EMS folks combined with the department of emergency services, public works, SHA [State Highway Administration] and law-enforcement kept the county safe during the hurricane event,” he said.
St. Mary’s County appears to have received the full force of Isaias. Dozens of roadways/bridges washed out, several rescues, and two tornadoes. Hayden’s Cove in Chaptico was one of four waterway entry points used in St. Mary’s County up until the early 20th century. Yesterday though, it could have easily been back in service as floodwaters reached almost all the way up to the roundabout on Route 234.
The tornado that touched down just south of Leonardtown, MD in Callaway damaged a few homes, property and leveled several trees. No injuries were reported from it. According to the NWS, this tornado was on the ground for 13 minutes and is preliminarily classified as an EF-1. The tornado width was 100 yards and it traveled for 7.3 miles at peak winds of 100 mph.
Another tornado is confirmed by the NWS to have happened in Ridge. This tornado was on the ground for three minutes and traveled a distance of 0.9 miles and is preliminarily classified as an EF-0. The winds peaked at 75 mph and it was approximately 75 yards wide.
St. Mary’s County(SMC) Emergency Services Director Stephen Walker said SMC Fire and Rescue personnel responded to 116 fire calls, 29 EMS, 5 Inland Water Rescues, and 62 law enforcement.
One of the big concerns right now is how much damage was done that is yet to be discovered. Some of the compromised ground may become more unstable if another heavy rain happens soon said, Walker. At this time Walker did not have a good estimate on how many county roadways and bridges were damaged due to the ongoing assessment. They are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) and the Maryland Emergency Management Association(MEMA) and will have a report ready for them by Friday at the latest.
President of the St. Mary’s County Board of Commissioner’s Randy Guy issued a State of Emergency for seven days yesterday, which can be extended after that. What this does is help get federal and state funding, along with relaxing local procurement rules and policies. Some of these roadways and bridges could take weeks to repair Walker said. When it comes to State roads they have to bring in their own engineers and then they set up the plan independently of the county to repair them.
Walker, along with the County has been emphasizing “Turn around, Don’t Drown” since before the storm hit. They are asking residents and motorists to still continue to be aware. As he stated in the interview there could be undiscovered damage they may fail at any given time or at the next heavy rainfall. Watch for barricades in danger areas and do not drive around them. Also, be aware in your yards and neighborhoods of possible sinkholes and falling trees and branches.
Unfortunately in Charlotte Hall, one person was killed after a tree uprooted and fell on their car. The yet to be identified victim was traveling southbound on Three Notch Road when a large tree on the southbound shoulder of the road fell onto the roof of the vehicle, trapping the operator in the vehicle. The victim (sole occupant of the vehicle) was pronounced deceased on the scene.
The below photo gallery is compiled through The Southern Maryland Chronicle’s reporters throughout the region, from friends, readers, and various SoMD Fire/EMS Facebook Pages.
The cleanup and repairs that are necessary to get Southern Maryland back to what it was before the storm will take weeks and will need the community patience. Be aware of where you are driving and any hazards. Some roads will experience heavier traffic. The Southern Maryland Chronicle will continue to monitor and report on the storm cleanup.