Tornado outbreak of September 24, 2001

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Tornado outbreak of September 24, 2001
College Park to Laurel Tornado.jpg
Picture of the tornado which hit the University of Maryland, College Park campus, killing two people.
TypeTornado outbreak
DurationSeptember 24, 2001; 17 years ago (2001-09-24)
Tornadoes confirmed9
Max rating1F4 tornado
Damage$105.157 million (2001 USD) $129.718 million (2010 USD)
Fatalities2 fatalities, 57 injuries
Areas affectedEastern United States (primarily the Mid-Atlantic states)
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale
A Doppler weather radar image of the College Park tornado near its peak at 21:21 UTC

The Tornado outbreak of September 24, 2001 was the most dramatic recent tornado event to directly affect the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area in the United States.[1] The outbreak occurred on Monday, September 24, 2001, and was responsible for two deaths and 57 injuries.[2]

Component storms[edit]

The first tornado of the outbreak was also the strongest – an F4 (see Fujita scale) tornado that left a 10-mile-long damage path through rural Culpeper and Fauquier Counties in Virginia. Weak (F1) tornadoes east of Warrenton, and just west of Dulles International Airport soon followed.

The September 24, 2001 tornado, with the Washington Monument visible at lower right

A second supercell to the southeast spawned the family of tornadoes that moved through Washington. A first tornado (F0) was confirmed in the Quantico, and nearby Prince William Forest Park areas; this was soon followed by an F1 tornado that left a 15-mile-long path parallel to I-95 and I-395 through Franconia, western Alexandria, and southeastern Arlington. This tornado dissipated near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and was followed by many reports of funnel clouds. The storm affected workers at the Pentagon who were mending the damage from the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The same storm soon produced a powerful, multiple-vortex F3 tornado in College Park, Maryland. This storm moved at peak intensity through the University of Maryland, College Park campus, and then moved parallel to I-95 through the Beltsville, Maryland, area, where the tornado caused extensive damage to greenhouses and other facilities of the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.[3] The storm continued on to Laurel, Maryland, where F3 damage was also noted. The damage path from this storm was measured at 17.5 miles in length, and this tornado caused two deaths and 55 injuries, along with $101 million in property damage.

The two deaths at College Park were Colleen and Erin Marlatt, who died when their car was picked up by the tornado near the Easton Hall dormitory and thrown into a tree in a parking area.[4]

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 3 3 1 1 1 0 9
List of reported tornadoes – September 24, 2001
Time (UTC)
Path length
Virginia / District of Columbia
F4 Rixeyville to NE of Waterloo Culpeper, Fauquier 38°09′N 78°13′W / 38.150°N 78.217°W / 38.150; -78.217 1903 10 miles (16 km) Tornado touched down in Rixeyville, blowing a tree onto a house. The tornado rapidly intensified into an F4 outside of town, flattening a well built three-story brick house. Debris from this house was found half a mile away. The tornado weakened to an F2 as it struck Jeffersonton, where extensive tree damage occurred and 4 churches were damaged. Four trailers were damaged and three others were destroyed in a trailer park as well. Continuing northeast of Jeffersonton, the tornado damaged the porch and roof of a house, damaged the sunroom of another house, and destroyed a garage. The roof was torn off of a barn before the tornado dissipated.[5]
F1 W of Gordonsville Orange 38°34′N 77°59′W / 38.567°N 77.983°W / 38.567; -77.983 1935 0.2 miles (0.32 km) Several trees were downed.[6]
F1 NW of The Plains Fauquier 38°51′N 77°47′W / 38.850°N 77.783°W / 38.850; -77.783 1949 6 miles (9.7 km) A porch was ripped off of a house and deposited 50 feet away. Pieces of lumber from the house were hurled into nearby vehicles. Two other houses were damaged as well, and a small poolhouse was destroyed. Extensive tree and power line damage occurred as well.[5]
F0 Garrisonville area Stafford, Prince William 38°29′N 77°25′W / 38.483°N 77.417°W / 38.483; -77.417 2010 12 miles (19 km) Trees were downed and a house sustained damage to its siding.[5]
F1 Franconia to Washington, D.C. Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, District of Columbia 38°44′N 77°11′W / 38.733°N 77.183°W / 38.733; -77.183 2044 11 miles (18 km) Tornado began in Virginia, damaging trees, power lines, and roofs in suburban areas. The tornado crossed into Washington, D.C., where 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 Smithsonians and the Capitol. Tree branches were snapped and swirling debris was observed in that area before the tornado dissipated.[5]
F3 Chillum to Savage Prince George's, Howard 38°56′N 76°59′W / 38.933°N 76.983°W / 38.933; -76.983 2119 17.5 miles (28.2 km) 2 deaths – Multiple vortex tornado moved through several DC suburbs. Major damage occurred in and around College Park, Whitehouse, Beltsville, Muirkirk, and Laurel. The University of Maryland sustained major damage, where 10 trailer classrooms were torn apart and one was thrown 200 yards. Many trees were snapped and uprooted on campus, and vehicles were thrown and flipped. A car carrying two young female students was hurled several hundred yards and over a high-rise 8 story dormitory building, resulting in two fatalities. Other buildings on campus sustained damage to roofs, windows, and trim. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Research Center sustained $41 millions in damage. 861 homes, 560 vehicles, and 23 businesses were damaged or destroyed in Prince George County alone. Light debris was carried up to 60 miles away. Caused a total of $73 million in damage and injured 50 people.[5]
F2 Parkville York 39°44′N 76°59′W / 39.733°N 76.983°W / 39.733; -76.983 2333 5 miles (8.0 km) 8 homes had their roofs torn off, and several others sustained lesser damage. Trees were downed, 38 cars were damaged at a dealership, and roof damage occurred at a middle school and an administration building. A store complex sustained significant structural damage.[7]
New York
F0 W of Fabius Onondaga unknown unknown .5 miles (0.80 km) Several trees were downed and a shed was destroyed.[8]
North Carolina
F0 N Aulander Bertie unknown unknown 1 mile (1.6 km) Two homes and multiple trees were damaged.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Killer Twisters Strike Washington Area". NOAA News. September 25, 2001. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  2. ^ "Tornadoes in the Past". Archived from the original on November 9, 2006. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  3. ^ USDA research center severely damaged in tornado. (press release) United States Department of Agriculture, September 25, 2001. Retrieved on 2008-12-22.
  4. ^ Dresser, Michael; MacGillis, Alec (September 25, 2001). "Tornado kills two UM students". The Virginia Gazette. Archived from the original on May 1, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e "September 24, 2001 Tornadoes". National Weather Service, Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office. Archived from the original on March 10, 2003.
  6. ^ "Storm Events Database: Event 5270145". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  7. ^ "Storm Events Database: Event 5263658". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  8. ^ "Storm Events Database: Event 5262766". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  9. ^ "Storm Events Database: Event 5267883". National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved October 8, 2017.

External links[edit]