A roller coaster of weather conditions blew through the Chesapeake Bay region Friday morning, prompting tornado warnings in some Maryland counties, winds over 70 miles per hour in Virginia, and thunderstorms in many Bay communities.
On the upper Bay, the National Weather Service confirms an EF1 tornado touched down near the Elk Mills Quarry in northeastern Cecil County, Maryland. It came with winds of 100 miles per hour and uprooted trees, but didn’t cause significant damage. The EF1 is one of five tornadoes confirmed in Maryland on Friday.
The National Weather Service in Wakefield, Virginia reported a maximum wind gust of 73 miles per hour at NOAA’s Willoughby Degaussing Station in the Lower James River at 9:18 a.m. A few minutes earlier, Middle Ground Lighthouse and Hampton Flats saw gusts of 72 and 70 miles per hour, respectively.
On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, both Ocean City and Bucktown, near Cambridge, clocked gusts of 64 miles per hour. Across the bridge in southern Maryland, boat slips bore the brunt of the high winds. On Mill Creek not far from Solomons, a racing sailboat on a lift blew right onto the dock.
At a private marina near the Calvert Marine Museum, the roof over an area of covered slips came crashing down on the boats inside, some of them sustaining damage.
Photographer Dan Duffy, who lives in the area, said the wind really peaked shortly after 9 a.m., when he mistook the gusts for Pax River Naval Air Station test flights.
“Then I heard tree limbs hitting the roof. When I looked outside the rain and debris were going by horizontally and our normally protected creek had white caps. It seemed to stay that way for about 20 minutes,” Duffy says.
When the wind died down some, Duffy surveyed the damage by boat and shared these photos with Bay Bulletin:
Duffy tells us some of the watermen in the community described the winds as “Narly,” and had to hold onto their culling board to stay in the boat.
More than 7,200 BGE customers lost power in central Maryland, with most restored by that night.
-Meg Walburn Viviano