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Maryland 1996 Tornadoes

(Another big year)

Summary by Barbara McNaught Watson

Warning Coordination Meteorlogist

Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office

National Weather Service/NOAA

Total number of tornadoes for 1996 = 20

Average number of tornadoes since 1950 = 4 per year

Number of tornado related deaths = 0

Number of tornado related injuries = 3 injuries

Total estimated property damage = 7.8 million dollars

Tornado statistics by County for 1996:

Anne Arundel County had 1 tornado

1) June 24 in Waysons Corner; (same tornado as PG County)

Strength = F1, Path = 1 miles, Damage = 100K

Baltimore County/City had 3 tornadoes

1) July 19 near Tyler (same storm that hit Gamber)

Strength = F1, Path = 1.2 mile, Damage = 75K

2) July 19 in the north and east parts of the city

Strength = F0, Path = .2 miles, Damage = 5K

3) Nov. 8 near Dundalk

Strength = F1, Path = 3.75, Damage = 750K

Carroll County had 2 tornadoes

1) July 19 near Gamber; 3 injuries

Strength = F3, Path = 2.25 miles, Damage = 5M

2) Sept. 28 near Silver Run

Strength = F1, Path = .5 mile, Damage = 75K

Calvert County had 1 tornado

1) July 13 near Dunkirk (Tropical Storm Bertha)

Strength = F1, Path = 1.2 miles, Damage = 125K

Charles County had 2 tornadoes

1) July 13 near Hughsville (Tropical Storm Bertha)

Strength = F1, Path = .3 miles, Damage = 150K

2) July 15 near Bel Alton

Strength = F0, Path = .3 miles, Damage = 14K

Dorchester County had 1 tornado

1) July 13 near Madison (Tropical Storm Bertha)

Strength = F1, Path = .5 miles, Damage = 30K

Frederick County had 2 tornadoes

1) June 4 near Mount Airy

Strength = F1, Path = 1 mile, Damage = 150K

2) July 19 in Brunswick

Strength = F1, Path = 2.25 miles, Damage = 130K

Howard County had 1 tornado

1) Aug. 27 near Columbia

Strength = F0, Path = .5 miles, Damage = 15K

Montgomery County had 2 tornadoes

1) July 19 near Whites Ferry

Strength = F1, Path = .5 miles, Damage = 20K

2) July 19 in Seneca Creek Park

Strength = F1, Path = 1 mile, Damage = 5K

Prince Georges County had 2 tornadoes

1) June 24 near Andrews AFB; Gustnado (leading edge of downburst)

Strength = F0, Path = 1 mile, Damage = 200K

2) June 24 in Upper Marlboro; same storm, also hit Fairfax, VA.

Strength = Strong F1, Path = 4 miles, Damage = 500K

Queen Anne's County had 1 tornado

1) Nov. 26

Strength = F1, Path = .25 mile, Damage = 30K

St. Marys County had 1 tornado

1) July 13 near California (Tropical Storm Bertha)

Strength = F1, Path = 1.2 mile, Damage = 100K

Washington County had 2 tornadoes

1) July 19 near Smithsburg

Strength = F1, Path = 1 mile, Damage = 20K

2) July 19 in Yarrowsburg

Strength = F2, Path = 2 miles, Damage = 400K

Is the weather changing in Maryland?

Records kept since 1950 suggest that Maryland averages 4 tornadoes per year. Yet since 1991, the record for total tornadoes in a year in the State has been broken three times with the latest record set in 1995 with 24 tornadoes.

1991 = 1 tornado; 1992 = 13 tornadoes; 1993 = 6 tornadoes

1994 = 21 tornadoes; 1995 = 24 tornadoes; 1996 = 20 tornadoes

Why are the number of tornadoes increasing? Two big factors are the increase in population and the influence of the media. More people means more property (homes) to be damaged and more people to witness the tornadoes. Because of the media, people are reporting tornado damage to the National Weather Service. This means that our records are getting more accurate to what really is occurring each year across Maryland. It is likely that a more realistic annual tornado average for Maryland is around 9 or 10 tornadoes. That still makes 1994 through 1996, a bumper crop. Our records only go back to 1950 and climate cycles are much longer than that so it can not be determined if this cycle is out of the ordinary. We are definitely in an active weather cycle and thereby more tornadoes are occurring, but this does not necessarily mean a permanent change to the weather pattern over Maryland has occurred.