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On April 30, 2002, NIST surved the structural damage caused by the tornado in La Plata, MD, on Sunday, April 28, 2002. The tornado had been preliminary rated as an F5 tornado (117 m/s to142 m/s (261 mph to 318 mph) wind speed) by the National Weather Service. The path of structural damage in La Plata begins approximately 1.2 km (¾ mile) west of the junction between MD routes 301 and 6, and ends at about 6.4 km (4 miles) east of this junction.
The types of construction that were damaged include conventional wood frame construction (residential) and low rise, brick and masonry commercial structures (Archbishop Neale and La Plata United Methodist churches). For residential construction, a majority of the structures sustained loss of roof and part of the leeward walls, with a lesser number sustained total collapse. For commercial structures, the damage was limited to mainly loss of roof and partial collapse of leeward walls. During the damage survey, forensic information that might provide insights into how well the damaged structures were built, such as the wall-to-roof and wall-to-foundation connections, were collected for future analysis.
Damage from the LaPlata, MD tornado, 2002. (Photo credit: NIST)