Yesterday, a fierce storm blew through New York City. While the National Weather Service is investigating whether it was indeed a tornado, it was scary nonetheless. Just watch this video of the intense storm as it rolled through Brooklyn. (And definitely watch the video above, which should provide guidelines on exactly what not to do if a tornado comes through town here.)
So when was the last time the District was hit by a twister? Sept. 24, 2001.
The F1 tornado started in the vicinity of Franconia, Va., and roughly paralleled Interstate 395 as it made its way into the District, where it more or less died out, doing only minor damage.
According to the National Weather Service’s office in Sterling, Va.:
The tornado passed the Pentagon City Mall taking the I-395 Pentagon exit sign and hurling it through the air. Its last act as it was weakening to F0. It crossed the Potomac River at the 14th Street Bridge. At about 5:06 pm, the tornado was seen moving into the District of Columbia. Now a thin funnel in its rope stage. It passed the Jefferson Memorial and crossed the Tidal Basin snapping tree branches. It was seen passing just south of the Washington Monument, headed for the Smithsonian and the Capitol. Fortunately it was only strong enough at this point to swirl trash and leaves and break a few branches. The Funnel broke off near the Capitol. The funnel cloud continued to be observed as the storm moved northeast across McMillan Reservior. Soon it would touch down again and hit College Park. The total track length was about 15 miles long.
That same storm cell went into Maryland and redeveloped into the F3 tornado that hit the University of Maryland at College Park, killing two people.
While tornadoes here are not as prevalent as they are in the Great Plains, the D.C. region is not immune to devastating twisters, like the devastating F5 tornado that hit La Plata, Md., on April 28, 2002.