3 Tornadoes Touched Down in DC Area During Strong Storms

Some of DC's famed cherry trees were felled by powerful storms that ripped through DC

What to Know

  • Some of D.C.'s famed cherry trees were downed near the Tidal Basin.
  • Strong storms and powerful winds brought down trees, damaged rooftops and tore down power lines throughout the area.
  • Strong winds tore off part of the roof of a DC apartment building, displacing more than 130 people.

Thunderstorms and three tornadoes barreled through the D.C. area Thursday, uprooting trees, ripping down power lines, tearing apart rooftops and raining debris onto streets and highways.

An EF-0 tornado with winds between 60 and 70 mph swept through Arlington into D.C. and damaged cherry trees at the Tidal Basin, the National Weather Service announced Friday. The tornado's path was four-and-a-half miles long.

Two more EF-0 tornadoes touched down Thursday, one at a D.C. military base and another in nearby suburban Northern Virginia, the NWS said Thursday night. No one was injured.

One tornado hit Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Southeast D.C. and had a one-mile path. Another tornado touched down in Herndon, Virginia, for nearly one mile. An EF-0 is the lowest ranking on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which measures tornadoes by wind estimates based on damage.

The damage to homes from Thursday’s storms is so extensive in parts of Northern Virginia that some people need to find a new place to stay. Others spent all day helping neighbors clean up. Northern Virginia Bureau Reporter David Culver surveys the damage in Fauquier County.

Damage and Power Outages

Dime-sized hail clattered down across the region, and downed trees and high winds caused significant damage to some homes and at least one church.

In D.C., strong winds tore off part of the roof of an apartment building on Stanton Road in Southeast, displacing 134 residents. Debris cascaded onto the street. A man was driving nearby when part of the apartment's roof came crashing down onto his Chevy Silverado pickup truck.

"All of a sudden stuff was coming down. Boom boom! Just hitting me," Earl Nowlin said.

A tarp is now covering the gaping roof of the building.

A strong weather system left behind a wide path of damage across parts of the Washington region Thursday. In the District, winds ripped roofs off of buildings, while in Virginia, News4 crews found large trees toppling onto buildings. News4’s Jackie Bensen, David Culver and Meagan Fitzgerald have team coverage.

One person was injured by flying drywall, D.C. City Administrator Rashad Young said.

Huge sheets of roof material were blown onto power lines across the street. Cleanup crews have removed thousands of pounds of boards, insulation and other materials that damaged at least a half-dozen cars parked on Stanton Road.

Winds also severely damaged the roof of St. Aloysius Catholic Church next to Gonzaga High School near Union Station. Downed trees, including some of D.C.'s cherry trees, littered the ground near the Tidal Basin.

Several massive trees were uprooted in one neighborhood in Annandale, Virginia. One tree slammed onto a home and fell through its roof, causing major damage. Neighbors told News4 no one was injured. Nearby, a large tree fell onto an apartment building.

One person sustained minor injuries in Arlington, Virginia, after part of the Macy's storefront at Pentagon City was damaged during the storm and fell onto that person's car.

Debris crashed onto a man’s truck as he was driving when storms ripped the roof off of an apartment building in Southeast D.C. News4’s Jackie Bensen reports.

Tens of thousands of power outages were reported across the region Thursday afternoon.

By Friday morning, Dominion Virginia still had more than 1,300 customers without power in Northern Virginia. The majority of the remaining outages were in Fauquier and Fairfax counties. Just 14 Pepco customers had outages Friday morning. Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E) reported about 300 customers without power Friday morning, with most in Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties.

A family stuck in high water was rescued and a woman says she’s lucky she wasn’t home when tree limbs came through her window. News4’s Prince George’s County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins is surveying the damage in Laurel.

The heavy rain arrived in the D.C. metro area late Thursday morning, with close to 2 inches an hour in some parts. The rain passed through some areas quickly, preventing major accumulation, but other areas saw minor flooding.

The National Weather Service issued a thunderstorm warning for D.C. but not a tornado warning. Any severe thunderstorm is capable of producing a tornado, News4 meteorologist Chuck Bell said.

In Laurel, Maryland, a car became stuck in high water on a two-lane road off of Route 197. Medics evaluated two women and an infant inside the car. They were OK.

Future Weather

The strong winds could stick around for the next few days, with wind gusts of more than 40 mph possible Friday.

In addition, brace yourself for some big swings in temperature. Temps will struggle to get near 50 on Friday, with wind chills in the 30s.

Friday will also be cloudy, with the occasional sprinkle or shower possible.

The weekend will be dry, with plenty of sunshine both days, but on the chilly side of average. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings will be in the 30s to near 40. A widespread freeze is not likely, but frost will be possible in the rural areas Sunday morning. Afternoon highs will stay in the 50s Saturday and then get back into the upper 60s Sunday.

The outlook for Monday and Tuesday is shaping up to be great, with sunny skies and highs near 80.

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