'Several long track tornadoes' hit Maryland, Virginia: preliminary NWS survey

A severe weather system that spawned "several" tornadoes left people suffering injuries and significant damage across Northern Virginia and Maryland on Wednesday night.

Jim Lee, Meteorologist-in-charge for the National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington office, said their preliminary investigation of damage revealed winds of up to 105 mph when storms cut through the region. 

"It appears that we had two or three, several long-track tornadoes across the region…last night," Lee said in a noon press conference Thursday, noting that the tornadic weather system started outside Leesburg before it tracked east through Montgomery and Howard counties, then to Baltimore. 

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The NWS has four different survey teams investigating damage across nine counties in West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. They expect to release their official report on the strength, number and track of the tornadoes by 6 p.m. Thursday. 


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Several were injured after severe weather, including tornadoes, swept through the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia regions on Wednesday night, leaving a path of downed trees, damaged homes, and power outages.

Lee said it's possible, based on the damage surveyed so far, that the tornadoes that struck outside of Washington, D.C. are between an EF0 and an EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale – the scale used to rate tornadoes based on estimated wind speeds and related damage.

While officials said the tornado rating of an EF-0 or EF-1 would be classified as "minor," they stressed the significance of the event. "It’s very rare to have this many at one time," Lee said, noting that in his two decades of working with the NWS in this region, this was one of the top two or three tornadic events. 

Five residents were injured in Gaithersburg when a tree crushed a home with them inside. All five were transported to a hospital for injuries sustained during the tornado. At least five homes were significantly damaged by the storm. 

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Montgomery County Tornado

Survey teams continue to canvass the area and investigate the damage. Officials expect to release more information this evening.