April 28, 2002: F4 Tornado Hits La Plata

NASA satellite image of La Plata tornado track April 28, 2002

As the recent round of severe weather will verify, Spring is the season for violent thunderstorms and tornadoes in the eastern two thirds of the United States.  And, nine years ago one of those devastating Spring tornadoes ripped through La Plata, MD in Charles County.  It was only the third known F4 tornado to touch down in Maryland (Frostburg on June 2, 1998 and another in La Plata on November 9, 1926), and it had winds estimated up to 260 mph.  The thunderstorm that produced the tornado developed far to the west, in the mountains of West Virginia, then raced east at speeds of nearly 60 mph across northern Virginia toward southen Maryland.  Along with the deadly tornado, the thunderstorm produced hail 4.5″ in diameter.  The tornado did further damage in Calvert County then crossed the bay and headed for Dorchester County on the eastern shore.

Tom Tasselmyer

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