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La Plata, MarylandReturn
Scraps of timber are all that remain of a La Plata home destroyed by the April 2002 tornado.
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Date: April 28, 2002
Fujita scale intensity: F2, F4
Dead: 3
Injured: 122
Damage: More than 100 million dollars

The strongest tornado on record in Maryland developed from a supercell thunderstorm associated with a severe weather system that rolled in from the mid-Mississippi Valley.

The storm dropped hail in West Virginia and spawned its first tornado, an F2, around 4:45 p.m. in Virginia. The whirlwind destroyed or damaged more than a hundred buildings before dissipating.

Around 7 p.m., as the storm crossed the Potomac River into Maryland, another tornado—this one much bigger—touched down.

The tornado raced at 60 miles (97 kilometers) an hour through the countryside before it strengthened and headed straight through downtown La Plata.

The town center was decimated in seconds. More than 600 houses and businesses were destroyed. Many homes were swept off their foundations by the more-than-100-mile-an-hour (160-kilometer-an-hour) winds.

After storming through La Plata, the tornado continued into Calvert County, then crossed the Chesapeake Bay to Maryland's Eastern Shore. In all, the twister traveled about 70 miles (113 kilometers), an unusually long path for an East Coast tornado.

During its run the tornado fluctuated from an F1, with winds at 100 miles (160 kilometers) an hour, to an F4, with winds at almost 260 miles (418 kilometers) an hour.

This wasn't La Plata's first encounter with a killer tornado. In 1926 a twister touched down near a school, killing 14 schoolchildren.


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