Waterspout makes landfall in Maryland, destroys homes

Stormwater plumes can develop during thunderstorm conditions at any time of the year, and can cause damage if they make landfall. Tim Osborne / NOAA

A series of intense storm systems moving across the mid-Atlantic created some terrifying weather events in Maryland last week. In two videos captured by residents, a large water pipe turned hurricane hit Smith Island, a community of about 260 people鈥攎any of them fishermen and boaters鈥攄estroying several homes and injuring one person.

The stream came ashore on Smith Island in Somerset County, Maryland, and caused significant damage, according to Tweet from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. The storms also caused power outages for about 50,000 people across the state.

Amy and the kids are at Smith Island this week. You just sent me this. Thanks everyone is fine. Despite a lot of damage 馃檨

Posted by Daniel Summers on Thursday, August 4, 2022

Somers video of the Chesapeake Bay stream.

In the first video posted by Daniel Summers, a basin of water is forming in the Chesapeake Bay, circling the coast of Smith Island. As the crater moves toward Earth, the video shows the vortex mass moving over land and tearing up a house a few miles away.

In a second, scarier video, Catherine Taylor Dunaway documented and recorded the stream of water forming in the canal as it approached her home. As the video continues, the nozzle turns into a direct line toward the recorder, while onlookers disperse for safety.

“Look how big that is,” Taylor Dunaway says. “This is a huge aquarium.”

The crater slowly moves through the channel, traveling through several islands in the process. As he moves toward the recorder, the video shows the sheer size of the funnel as the scattered lightning strikes in the distance.

“I just came across the island,” Taylor Dunaway says. “It’s preparing to hit the canal.”

The faucet keeps getting louder in the video. When the massive mass of water finally reaches land, onlookers realize that it is not stopping and is looking for cover. Before cutting the video, the video shows the faucet tearing up the house next door. Taylor Dunaway confirmed in the comments to her video that everyone at her party is fine.

The only casualty was an 88-year-old woman in a house that was hit by a hurricane when it hit the ground. The woman suffered minor injuries, and emergency services transported her safely to a local hospital, according to the Washington Post.

Meteorological officials will investigate the water course over the coming days, hoping to determine the cause of the devastating phenomenon.

On Thursday, severe storms hit Washington, DC. During the storms, severe lightning struck outside the White House, killing three and injuring another. On Friday, storm systems themselves continued to move through the region, with severe thunderstorms and flash flood warnings issued in Baltimore and other parts of Maryland.

How to survive in Waterspout

There are two types of water mains, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): storm waters and temperate waters. The crater that hit Smith Island resembles a storm water spout, a rare occurrence in the region. (Storm water mains are more common in places like the Gulf of Mexico.)

Milder water mains are “typically less dangerous” and are common over the coastal waters of South Florida in the warmer months. These types of streams often form in calmer, lighter wind conditions, often at the base of large cumulonimbus clouds. As a result, they don’t move around much.

NOAA warns that some water mains can be as dangerous as hurricanes, and the National Weather Service usually issues a hurricane warning of a hurricane moving ashore. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) advises that the best way to avoid a water pipe is to move “at a 90-degree angle to its apparent motion.”

To reduce the chance of approaching an aquarium, NOAA recommends listening to the marine warnings broadcast by NOAA Weather radio and to monitor summer cloud buildup while you’re on the water. Thunderstorms over the ocean can create waterways all year round. Finally, never try to sail through the water tube. Although the tube is usually weaker than hurricanes, it can still cause serious injury and damage to boats.

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