UPDATED (9:45 p.m.)—A string of heavy storms hit Harford County Friday evening, leaving power lines, branches and a collapsed building in its path of destruction.
Trained weather spotters reported a tornado thunderstorm with a tornado near Bel Air around 6:07 p.m. and moving northeast at 15 miles per hour.
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Sterling, VA, however, had not confirmed a tornado as of 9:40 p.m.
"We do not have any confirmations of tornados there," meteorologist Brian Lasorsa said of Harford County. "We’ll have to go survey tomorrow."
, spokesman for , said some witnesses reported seeing rotation and a funnel cloud or tornado in the area of the most severe damage.
"That's not confirmed, however," Gardiner said of the tornado sightings.
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The heaviest damage was to the Fallston area along U.S. Route 1 between the Bel Air Bypass and Maryland Route 152.
A tornado watch remained in effect until 2 a.m., and flash flood warning was in effect until 12:15 a.m.
A tornado watch was issued for the county, then upgraded to a warning around 6 p.m. A short time later, a 10-foot by 20-foot building in the area of West Grove Avenue and U.S. Route 1 in Fallston collapsed, injuring four people, according Gardiner.
Gardiner said one patient was transported by land to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for treatment of injuries sustained in the collapse.
A second patient was taken to another local hospital, Gardiner said. As of 8 p.m., these were the only injuries reported in connection with the storm, Gardiner said.
The storm also overturned vehicles and ripped off treetops with the large majority of damage centering in the area along U.S. Route 1, Gardiner said.
Overflowing storm drains and significant traffic delays around the Fallston area were also results of the severe weather.
Linda Ploener with Harford County's Emergency Operations Center said the center was partially activated in response to the severe weather conditions. The dispatch center was recieving a large volume of calls Friday shortly before 6:45 p.m.
The Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack lost phone service as a result of the storm and the EOC was handling all of their calls.
Ploener said those with questions can call the non-emergency line: 410-638-4900.
Route 1 between the bypass and Route 152 remained closed to traffic shortly before 9 p.m. Friday as crews worked to clear debris and restore power.
Whitaker Mill Road was closed between Old Joppa Road and U.S. Route 1 and Old Joppa was closed betweeen Whitaker Mill and U.S. Route 1 Friday night.
Gardiner said fire department personnel along with members of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and county emergency operations were going door to door in the Fallston area Friday night, checking the well-being of residents and surveying damage.
Harford County's Emergency Operations Center sent out an alert Friday afternoon to notify residents and businesses that conditions are favorable for the development of severe storms. Forecasts call for an inch of rain or more in parts of Harford County Friday.
The following message was sent out via the Connect CTY system just before 2:30 Friday:
This message is from the Harford County Division of Emergency Operations. Thunderstorms are expected to develop this afternoon and evening. Some of the storms may be severe, producing damaging winds, large hail, and isolated tornadoes. Harford County has also been placed under a tornado watch until 9 pm (which may be extended) which means conditions later this afternoon through midnight are favorable for development of severe storms and tornado development is possible. Rainfall amounts of 1 to 1 and a half inches is possible. Remember that heavy rainfall can also lead to flash flooding. Please monitor local news and be safe this evening.
BGE was prepared for power outages throughout the region.
“With the potential for severe storms to move through our central Maryland service area this afternoon and evening, BGE continues to closely monitor the weather situation and is pre-mobilizing our storm center operations center,” Jeannette M. Mills, BGE chief customer officer, said in a statement. “We are also adjusting our crew staffing to prepare for a safe and prompt restoration of power should it be needed. We thank our customers in advance for their patience and cooperation.”
BGE advises customers to keep the following items on hand:
- Flashlights – not candles
- Fresh batteries
- Battery operated clock radio
- Corded telephone
- Fully charged cell phone
- Non-perishable foods
Maryland is the center of a wide swath of storm activity across the east coast. The Storm Prediction Center calls for a slight chance of tornadoes across the Mid-Atlantic, with a moderate chance in parts of Western Maryland, Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia.
Shifting low pressure over the Ohio Valley will move a storm-producing cold front into the mid-Atlantic, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters at Accuweather.com call for the possibility of severe thunderstorms in the area through the evening, but breezy and sunny weather on Saturday.
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