Waterspout slams into Maryland island as tornado, destroying homes
Shocking video shows a tornado ripping a house to pieces on Smith Island in Maryland.
SMITH ISLAND, Md. – Dramatic video captured the moment a giant waterspout crashed ashore on a small island in Maryland on Thursday where it caused significant damage, including the destruction of several homes.
"That is a huge waterspout!" said Katherine Donaway, who shot the video above as she watched it move onshore on Smith Island, which sits in the Chesapeake Bay. "Look how big that is! It's just come across the island…and it's getting ready to hit the channel."
Once a waterspout moves onto land, it's considered a tornado since it's no longer over the water.
Seconds later, the next house over from where Donaway shot the shocking video was demolished as the powerful tornado ripped it to pieces.
"Oh gosh! Oh Lord!" she shouted as she ran inside to seek shelter.
The video below was also shot on Smith Island by Tiffanie Woutila as the tornado struck. Woutila is seen running outside to inspect the damage caused by the twister, and she finds debris scattered around the neighborhood that was tossed around by the tornado's high winds.
Residents are also seen sifting through the debris of their destroyed homes in search of their personal belongings.
National Weather Service meteorologists say the tornado was an EF-1 with winds up to 110 mph.
The area was not under a Tornado Warning at the time and only a Special Weather Statement had been issued.
The NWS office in Wakefield, Virginia, warned of wind gusts to 45 mph but did not mention the possibility of a waterspout or tornado.
More than 50,000 power outages were reported across Maryland because of the severe storms.
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Maryland's Smith Island has a population of fewer than 300 people and consists of three distinct communities – Tylerton, Rhodes Point and Ewell – in the Chesapeake Bay along the border with Virginia. It sits just over 12 miles off the coast of the Delmarva Peninsula.
There are no airports or bridges on Smith Island, making it only accessible by boat. There are passenger ferries that connect the island to both the Eastern Shore and Western Shore of Maryland.
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According to FOX News, the island has lost hundreds of residents and thousands of acres in recent memory because of significant erosion caused by rising sea levels. Many properties lay abandoned across the island, which was first settled in the 17th century.
The Maryland government proposed in 2013 to use relief from Superstorm Sandy to buy out the island's remaining homeowners.