Severe Thunderstorm Warning Issued for Washington Co., MD

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Washington County, Maryland until 10:15 p.m. Saturday.

WASHINGTON — The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning Saturday until 10:15 p.m. for Washington Co, Maryland.

The NWS initially issued a tornado warning until 9:45 p.m., which was later downgraded to a severe thunderstorm warning. Affected towns include Hagerstown, Martinsburg and Shepherdstown.

The NWS warned that wind gusts could reach up to 60 mph and cause trees and large branches to fall. Localized power outages are possible.

Below is more information on how to prepare for severe weather.

How to Prepare for a Tornado

Have a way to obtain weather information. Click here to download the WUSA9 app. Be sure to turn on location and notification services so we can notify you of significant weather conditions in your area. Bring in any outdoor decorations you have installed, bring in or tie down your patio furniture, and secure your trash cans to prepare for the winds.

If a tornado warning has been issued for your area, you should seek shelter immediately. The general rule of tornado safety is to go low and stay low, which means go to the lowest level of the building you are in, away from windows, and crouch in a low position with your head covered .

How common are tornadoes in the DMV?

Although tornadoes in the District itself and nearby suburbs are rare, anecdotally it seems like we’ve been hearing more about tornado warnings lately. In early July 2021, two tornadoes touched down in the Washington metropolitan area, according to the NWS. An EF0 tornado struck DC while an EF1 touched down in Arlington. Maximum winds reached 80 to 90 mph and fortunately no one was injured in either tornado.

The July 1 tornado was only the sixth time in 17 years that a tornado warning including the district proper was issued, according to records maintained by Iowa State University. From 2005 to 2021, 436 tornado warnings were issued across the DMV, but only six included the district itself.

According to data from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center and the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, only three tornadoes greater than magnitude F0 have touched down within the borders of Washington, D.C., in the past 50 years — and two more than between them occurred at the same time. day in 2001.

What does the NWS look for to determine a tornado?

First, the funnel cloud must be in contact with the ground for it to be officially declared a tornado. Trained professionals also look for debris flying at the bottom of the funnel cloud.

Tornadic winds also leave damage because they are a rotating column of air. As it moves, it does not produce a uniform wind speed or direction as it passes through a neighborhood. So instead of trees falling in the same direction, they fall in opposite directions. So, so-called “circular damage” is the telltale sign of a tornado.

What if you’re caught outside in a storm?

Staying outside during a storm is simply not safe. Here’s what the National Weather Service advises you to do if you’re caught outside by a thunderstorm:

  • Continue moving toward safe shelter. If you’re caught off guard, do it not stop.
  • Stay away from isolated trees or other large objects. You don’t want to be the tallest object! If you are in a forest, stay in a lower group of trees.

  • Avoid open fields, hills, boulder fields, rock outcroppings and ridge tops. Do not lie flat on the ground.

  • Avoid bodies of water and metal objects that can conduct electricity.

  • Stay away from other members of your group. Spread out so that no more than one person is likely to be injured by lightning and the others can provide first aid.

The National Weather Service also recommends avoiding bleachers, dugouts and grandstands or standing near large light poles.

If the hairs start to stand on the back of your neck, be careful: lightning is probably about to strike.

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