Laurel Officials Say Tornado May Have Hit Area; NWS Hasn’t Confirmed

The National Weather Service has not confirmed cause of damage

Authorities in Laurel, Maryland say a tornado or microburst may have moved through the area during the storm Tuesday night -- but the National Weather Service has not confirmed the cause of damage to the area.

Laurel's emergency services director said the damage could have been caused by a microburst or tornado based on the pattern and path of damage. However, the area could have just sustained damage from heavy rain. The NWS is the agency that makes these determinations.

About a dozen buildings in Laurel's historic district were damaged in the storm. A historic theater and another building had damage to their rooftops. The storm blew out windows, displaced bricks and topped trees onto cars.

Laurel resident Asar Hetep saw parts of the roof of the theater lift. 

"It sounded like a tornado," he said. "There were very dark skies and the roof seemed raised up." 

Laurel authorities have notified the NWS, Laurel spokeswoman Audrey Barnes said. However, the NWS has not begun investigating the damage, NWS officials told Storm Team4 Meteorologist Amelia Segal. The NWS said they are aware of damage in Laurel but are not saying it was caused by a tornado or microburst. The service will look at some analysis Wednesday afternoon, but their focus will be on the likelihood of flooding at the end of the week and Hurricane Joaquin over the weekend into Monday.

Crews from Laurel inspected rooftops Wednesday on the 300 block of Main Street. Mayor Craig Moe urged residents to check their properties for damage.

In preparation for the potential impact of Hurricane Joaquin, residents and businesses were putting down tarps Wednesday afternoon. 

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