Yesterday, residents of Smith Island, Maryland watched in shock and horror as a waterspout touched down and destroyed several homes and caused more than 50,000 power outages. While there may only be a couple hundred residents on this tiny island, the residents here make up a close-knit community that takes pride in its quaint nature.
Unlike a true tornado, a waterspout is a column-shaped vortex that begins over a body of water. Typically, waterspouts are less destructive than tornadoes because it remains in open water, but this waterspout continued its path on land.
As the wreckage continued, two residents, Amy and Daniel Somers, caught part of the chaos in a video.
According to the National Weather Service, winds from the waterspout reached up to 45 miles per hour. There was also a chance that hail had made its way into the equation, too.
Smith Island sits in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay and has less than 300 residents. The island, famous for its namesake layered cake, comprises the communities of Tylerton, Rhodes Point, and Ewell. It is the only one of Maryland’s small islands that does not have a bridge that connects it to the mainland.
Beyond the recent waterspout damage, Smith Island has faced severe erosion that has claimed dozen of acres and caused a few residents to uproot from the small bayside community.
Marylanders Share Photos of Wreckage From Waterspout
Meanwhile, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan posted an update on the state’s efforts to aid those in the path of the waterspout.
“Our emergency management team is tracking the damage from tonight’s storms & coordinating with local jurisdictions,” Hogan wrote on Twitter. “Currently more than 50,000 power outages. Please stay off the roads in affected areas—especially anywhere tree-clearing crews need to work.”
“Somerset County is reporting that a waterspout landed onshore, causing significant damage on Smith Island,” he continued in a response to his tweet. “We stand ready to assist the local response.”
Governor Hogan also issued a warning to all of those still on the island.
“Please stay off the roads in affected areas – especially anywhere tree-clearing crews need to work,” he said.
Fellow locals posted their own updates and photos of Smith Island’s waterspout.
In the aftermath of the damage, chief meteorologist for WMDT Rich Wirdzek wrote, “Significant damage on Smith Island – these pictures were taken by Tiffanie Woutila. Somerset county sheriff confirms that a waterspout came ashore and cut across the island as a tornado.”
So far, the island has yet to officially report any injuries, but one local claimed that a house “collapsed” on a Smith Island woman.
According to the Marylander, “boats flipped, shanties destroyed, house collapsed on a woman and medevac coptor can’t fly in. Nowhere to hide in the middle of the Bay.”