National Weather Service confirms Montgomery tornado

by Elizabeth Waibel Staff writer

This story was updated at 11 a.m. June 17, 2013.

This story was corrected at 9:25 a.m. June 17, 2013. An explanation follows the story.

It was a tornado that raced through Montgomery County Thursday afternoon, damaging at least 14 homes and uprooting trees, the National Weather Service has confirmed.

The tornado had 75 mph winds and a width of 150 yards, according to a statement released by NWS Friday night. The storm began at 3:41 p.m. June 13 and lasted for 18 minutes, moving at an average pace of 60 mph. No injuries or fatalities were reported, the statement said.

Driving down Goldsborough Drive in Rockville Friday morning, there was evidence of a tornado on every corner. The street was scattered with downed tree limbs and power lines, blocking side streets and crowding front yards. Residents were out cleaning up the aftermath of the Thursday’s storm, but some had more work to do than others.

Two houses near Goldsborough Drive have already been condemned due to the storm, which moved through around 4 p.m.

One house on Stevens Court was struck by a tree from the front. Neighbor Karin Mollard said the resident was outside of the house when the tree fell right next to him.

“Luckily he wasn’t standing inside the house when the tree fell,” she said.

Mollard said she went over to the house once the storm had passed to help remove valuable items and important papers. But when rescue crews arrived 10 minutes later, they said the house was unsafe and urged no one to enter. Mollard said the American Red Cross helped the home owner find a hotel to stay in last night.

Mollard, who was home during the storm, said it reminded her of a hurricane.

“Outside the window all you could see was rain and a green blur,” she said.

Craig McBurney, owner of the second condemned house on Goldsborough Drive, was also outside when the brunt of the storm hit. He said he heard the tornado warning and immediately went to pick his son up from school. They were in their carport when a strong wind blew through the neighborhood.

“You could hear all the trees crack in a circle around our house,” McBurney said.

He said that is when he and his son ran into the basement. Seven trees from the McBurney’s backyard and neighboring ones were uprooted and came crashing through the roof of his son’s room, causing the roof over half of the house to cave in. He said that part of the house will have to be completely redone.

McBurney was already remodeling the bathroom of the house and had planned to install the shower the day of the storm.

“It looks like I’ll have a lot more remodeling to do,” he said, looking around at the damage.

McBurney said his home insurance will cover the cost of a crane to come on Tuesday to remove the fallen trees. For now, he and his family debating staying with friends or at a hotel.

Just off of Norbeck Road near the Rockville-Olney border and tucked behind Manor Country Club, Lorin Burden said her woodsy neighborhood had 17 homes with downed trees.

Two hundred-year-old tulip poplar trees crashed into her house on Bretton Road during the second round of storms when she, her daughter and her husband were home. No one was hurt.

“It just got really black and little branches started hitting the house,” she said. “You couldn’t see out the windows and it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon. So that’s when we started heading to the basement. I think [the trees] came down at the same time.

“The whole neighborhood is a mess.”

Burden said her family will stay with neighbors her family housed last year after they were temporarily displaced by the derecho due to home damage. This year, she speculated, her family will be out of their home for months.

“I don’t know I can fully comprehend how much damage there is,” she said. “The way that they fell, they have to get a crane to lift the trees off the see how much damage there is.”

During the worst of the storm, county spokeswoman Lucille Baur said, there were 36,000 reported power outages in the county. By comparison, last year’s famed derecho had 240,000 outages.

Among those without power Friday were two Montgomery County Schools — Sligo Middle School in Silver Spring and Blair Ewing Center in Rockville. Other schools were scheduled to have a half day.

No major storm-related injuries had been reported as of Friday morning, according to a news release from the county, but 16 roadways were reported to have trees with wires down.

In the City of Rockville, spokeswoman Marylou Berg said the city had brought in some contracted crews on Friday to help employees clean up debris.

“There are lots of power lines down,” she said at the time. “The crews are reporting that they’re seeing a lot of trees on houses.”

Berg said a swath of the city center between the Woodley Gardens neighborhood and Maryvale Elementary School seemed to be the hardest hit.

Harry Bond, public information officer for the Prince George’s County Police Department, said the only significant emergency they were called to respond to concerning the storm was a tree falling on a home at the 5900 block of Parkway Drive just outside Laurel city limits.

The tree caused flooding to the basement of the home, said Pete Piringer, public information officer with the police department.

Bond said officers were still on the scene watching the home to keep it secure from any intruders. He said there were no injuries related to the incident, but otherwise did not know the status of the inhabitants of the home.

He did not know if the tree had been removed from the home as of early Friday afternoon.

On the roads, collisions were no more frequent than other afternoons with heavy rain, Baur said, noting that Fire and Rescue did not conduct any swift water rescues to save stranded motorists.

Staff writer Timothy Sandoval and interns Katie Pohlman and Jacob Bogage contributed to this report.

Correction: This story was updated to correct the spelling of Lorin Burden’s name.

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