2 die af­ter tor­nado strikes ware­house

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - MARY­LAND BY MICHAEL E. RUANE, MARTIN WEIL AND CLARENCE WIL­LIAMS michael.ruane@wash­post.com martin.weil@wash­post.com clarence.wil­liams@wash­post.com

Fri­day night’s storm sys­tem pro­duced two EF-1 tor­na­does in Mary­land, with one touch­ing down in Bal­ti­more City and County, pro­duc­ing winds of over 100 mph and knock­ing down part of an Ama­zon.com ware­house, killing two peo­ple.

An EF-1 tor­nado on the En­hanced Fu­jita scale gen­er­ally causes moder­ate dam­age. The scale goes from zero to five, with five caus­ing the most de­struc­tion.

The Bal­ti­more twister cut a path 2½ miles long and about 150 yards wide as it raced east for five min­utes start­ing at 9:42 p.m., said Jim Lee, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist at the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice’s of­fice in Ster­ling, Va.

It left a track of in­ter­mit­tent dam­age, flip­ping a trac­tor trailer near the Fort McHenry Tun­nel, dam­ag­ing the ware­house, and tear­ing off the roof of a nearby apart­ment com­plex in Dun­dalk, he said. The ware­house col­lapse hap­pened at a load­ing dock area at the Ama­zon sort­ing cen­ter, Ama­zon said.

(Jeffrey P. Be­zos, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ama­zon, owns The Wash­ing­ton Post.)

Ama­zon said the vic­tims, who were not iden­ti­fied, were “third­party con­trac­tors” and not Ama­zon em­ploy­ees.

One of them was pulled from the rub­ble overnight Fri­day and died at a hospi­tal. The body of the sec­ond per­son was found early Satur­day.

The fire depart­ment had to bring in a crane and other heavy equip­ment to re­move col­lapsed con­crete and other de­bris.

Fri­day’s other tor­nado in­flicted dam­age at sev­eral spots in Howard and Car­roll Coun­ties, start­ing about 8:20 p.m. In Mount Airy, it lifted and par­tially re­moved the roof of a TJ Maxx store, the weather ser­vice said. It also snapped trees and power poles and de­stroyed a silo, the weather ser­vice said. Top winds were es­ti­mated at 100 mph.

The dam­age came as strong winds ar­rived with a cold front.A gust of 71 mph was re­ported in Hamp­stead in Car­roll County,

In Bal­ti­more City, the fire depart­ment said the ware­house dam­age in­volved the col­lapse of a sec­tion of an outer wall about 50 feet square. An ad­ja­cent part of the roof also col­lapsed.

Ama­zon spokesman Dave Clark, the se­nior vice pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions, said in a state­ment Satur­day: “The safety of our em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors is our top pri­or­ity and at this time the build­ing re­mains closed. We are in­cred­i­bly thank­ful for the quick re­sponse from emer­gency ser­vices.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the fam­i­lies im­pacted by Fri­day evening’s tragic event.”

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