By Hannah Yale
On Sept.1, 2021, a tornado with 125 mph winds tore through Anne Arundel county as a result of former Hurricane Ida. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado swept through an 11.25 mile path from near Shady Side to just north of Annapolis. It was rated an EF-2 on the 0 to 5 scale for tornado intensity and was on the ground from 2:00 to 2:23 p.m. A tornado of this magnitude is uncommon in Maryland, as most tornadoes in the region are rated EF-0 or EF-1.
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said that the twister destroyed three buildings. Additionally, 24 structures were left condemned, 26 suffered major damage, and 49 had major damage. A statement from the City of Annapolis Twitter page stated that 38 people were displaced due to the storm. The roof of a home in Edgewater was blown off. WUSA9 reported that the homeowner was not there for the duration of the tornado, and was alerted about the situation by his neighbors. His house was one of four homes in the cul de sac that was damaged.
This tornado was widely filmed and photographed. Posts on social media show how the storm tore through a local restaurant, Chris’s Charcoal Pit, as well as the tornado’s effects on the South River High School football field and the severe flooding at Baker Park in Frederick.
The Annapolis tornado was one of three confirmed in Maryland that resulted from Hurricane Ida on Sep. 1. In Dorchester County, a EF-0 storm was on the ground for 4 miles, with peak winds of 75 mph. It damaged a metal building and several irrigation systems near Hurlock. Another EF-0 moved through 6.7 miles near Edgemere with 85 mph winds and found several injured trees.
Annapolis is only 70 miles from SMCM’s campus, and many students have friends and family who live in or near the areas impacted by the tornado. Claire Stephenson (‘24) told The Point News that she was “really surprised” when she first learned about the tornado that had touched down in Annapolis, near where her family lives. “We’ve had several tornados nearby and they’ve been getting more frequent, but this is the first time I can remember where a tornado touched down [locally] and caused so much damage,” Stephenson said.
Since the start of 2011, there have been over 100 tornadoes in the state of Maryland, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In the previous decade (Jan. 1, 2001 through Dec. 31, 2010), only 85 tornadoes were recorded in the state. NOAA’s from Jan. 1, 1951 through Dec. 31, 1960 shows only 14 reported tornadoes during that decade.
There has been an obvious increase in tornado events in Maryland over the past 70 years, and while individual weather patterns do affect the likelihood of a tornado to form, the majority of climate scientists and meteorologists believe that the global increase in extreme weather events is being driven by climate change. Some scientists would go so far as to argue that specific extreme weather events, such as the global record-breaking high temperatures in 2016, “not only were influenced by climate change but could not have occurred without it,” according to Scientific American. It is unclear whether the uptick in Maryland tornadoes would have occurred in a world without climate change, but it is evident that these natural disasters are becoming more frequent everywhere, even in our homes.