The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down near Interstate 95 in northern Virginia.
People stuck in traffic on the highway used their cell phones to take pictures and video of the twister, which crossed over I-95 near Quantico about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Darlene Brock, who sent in video of the storm, said it only took a few seconds for the funnel cloud to form.
Severe weather struck around the Washington region Thursday evening.
Some of the worst storm damage is in Vienna. The strong winds knocked over trees and power lines along Hunter Mill Road and Wickens Road.
Dominion power has been working throughout the night to restore electricity. At one point around 5,000 people were in the dark. By Friday morning, power to many residents had been restored but several hundred still experienced outages.
Further south, the weather rattled some already-frazzled nerves in Louisa County, Va.
A reported tornado blew the roof off a historic home there, not far from the epicenter of the August earthquake in the town of Mineral.
An elementary school and at least a dozen homes in New Kent County sustained tornado damage Thursday afternoon. Preliminary information shows the tornado had 95 mph winds and was 200 yards wide, National Weather Service meteorologist Lyle Alexander said.
Crews worked on repairing the school's metal roof throughout the night and it reopened Friday. Aside from the roof, only two windows were blown out during the storm, New Kent County Schools Executive Director of Instruction Nate Collins said.
The storms also caused some confusion at the University of Maryland.
The university sent out alerts that a tornado was going to hit campus and students and faculty should seek shelter.
However, the National Weather Service said there was no tornado warning issued for the College Park area.
University Police told News4 that Accuweather alerted them to rotation in the storm, so they issued the alerts as a precaution.