Tornado watch through 8 a.m.; confirmed tornadoes in Stafford, Prince William and PG co., multiple funnel cloud sightings

(originally posted at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday)

12:50 a.m. update: The tornado watch has been extended through 8 a.m. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center writes: “TSTMS CURRENTLY CRESTING THE BLUE RIDGE ARE EXPECTED TO INTENSIFY DURING THE EARLY MORNING HOURS AS THEY ENCOUNTER A MOIST AND MODERATELY UNSTABLE AIR MASS IN PLACE ACROSS THE PIEDMONT. GIVEN THE STRONG VERTICAL SHEAR IN PLACE...THE SETUP WILL FAVOR A CONTINUATION OF SUPERCELLS AND BOWING STRUCTURES CAPABLE OF TORNADOES...DAMAGING WINDS AND HAIL.” We’re still looking at the best chance of additional storms starting between 4-7 a.m., though some could reach the western suburbs as early as around 3 a.m.

11:50 p.m. update: A strong thunderstorm is passing through north central Montgomery county northeast of I-270, headed toward Howard county. Once this passes, we should get a break until between 4-7 a.m.. Then through early tomorrow afternoon, additional showers and thunderstorms will develop, and more severe storms are likely. We are going to take a break from coverage until 5 a.m. tomorrow unless more tornadic storms develop between now and then, which is a low probability (less than 20%) . Compared to the horrifying situation in the South, where the death toll is in the many dozens and counting, we should consider ourselves quite lucky. Here are some frightening videos of Alabama tornadoes from earlier today:

Tuscaloosa video 1
Tuscaloosa video 2

Tuscaloosa video 3

Tornado moving down mountain in Empire, Alabama

Overview (last updated at 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. and 12:50 a.m.): A serious severe thunderstorm outbreak is impacting the D.C. metro region with periodic clusters of rotating thunderstorms moving through the region. Tornadoes have already occurred and additional tornadoes are possible through 8 a.m. when the tornado watch in effect for the entire region expires. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center posted the following statement: “Tornado threat continues ... as numerous discrete storms many of which are exhibiting rotation and splitting supercell characteristics persist within a broad warm sector from central Maryland southwestward to north central North Carolina.” If a tornado warning is issued for your area, seek shelter immediately.

Monitor severe warnings issued by the National Weather Service and radar on our Severe Weather Tracking Station below. Also, comment below with conditions where you are.

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Severe weather and tornado reports (last updated at 8:15 and 10:30 and 11:55 p.m.)

A tornado was reported at 6:14 p.m. two miles west of Triangle in Prince William county according to the National Weather Service and a large tree was reported down across roadway in the Dumfries and Triangle area. WJLA posted this picture of the tornado on the ground in Stafford county earlier (probably about 30-45 minutes ago). A second tornado was reported at 10:57 p.m. in Nokesville, Va. where ceiling fans were blown out at Harris Teeter in Bristow Center.

In addition, Doug Hill at WJLA reported a tornado touched down on Andrews Air Force Base around the golf course. Large tree branches, shingles and a large sign were blown down near the base according to the National Weather Service. In addition to these tornado reports, funnel clouds were reported in Spotsylvania, Stafford, Howard, Prince George’s and Charles counties.

Elsewhere, hail between 0.75-1.0” in diameter was reported in Carroll (Md) Prince William (Va., around Dumfries) and Orange (Va.) county.

Multimedia: Pictures from PG county showing funnel clouds from earlier(courtesy PG Fire Department); Picture of tornado or funnel cloud near Clinton, Md. from Twitter (@Akilkd)

Keep reading for earlier updates...

11:25 p.m. update: I think we are finally about to catch a break. We still have a strong thunderstorm over northern Fairfax and southern Montgomery county that we can’t entirely let our guard down on. Once that passes north through Howard county, we should catch a nice break, through at least the pre-dawn hours. I’ll post one more update with my latest thinking for the next round in about 20 minutes.

11:15 p.m. update: Tornado warning has expired for Manassas, Manassas Park, and Prince William county.

11:10 p.m. update: The good news is that the rotation in the Prince William storm has weakened some and there are no warnings in effect in central and western Fairfax county, where the storm has now moved. However, the storm could start rotating again - so stay tuned into any warning information as the storm lifts northeast into Montgomery county in next 15 minutes.

10:50 p.m. update: TORNADO WARNING remains in effect for Prince William Co, Manassas and Manassas Park. At 10:48 pm, possible tornado was located 9 miles southwest of Bull Run or 11 miles east of Warrenton, moving northeast at 30 mph. Possible locations in path: Bull Run, Manassas Park and Sudley.

10:45 p.m. update: Hook echo indicating possible tornado into Prince William county, just south of Manassas headed northeast. This is a dangerous situation. Take cover if you in the vicinity now.

10:40 p.m. update: If you live in western Fairfax (e.g. Centreville, Chantilly, Sterling, etc) or eastern Loudoun county (near Dulles), be prepared to take cover. Possible tornadic thunderstorm arriving in next 30-45 minutes.

10:30 p.m. update: TORNADO WARNING for Fauquier and Prince William county until 11:15 p.m. Radar indicated thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado 20 miles SW of Bull Run or 11 miles south of Warrenton, moving NE at 40 mph. THIS WARNING INCLUDES MANASSAS AND MANASSAS PARK. Take cover now. Night time tornadoes are extremely dangerous.

10:20 p.m. update: Tornado warning continues into Fauquier county until 10:30 p.m. Locations in path of possible tornado include Remington, Bealeton, Lois, Opal & Midland.

10:05 p.m. update: A TORNADO WARNING has been issued for Fauquier county until 10:30 p.m. At 9:57 p.m. doppler radar indicated a possible tornado near Culpeper moving northeast at 40 mph. Locations in path: Bealeton. Take cover if you live in that vicinity.

10 p.m. update: With the exception of a small sliver of Culpeper county, where a tornado warning continues until 10:15 p.m., no other warnings are in effect. But a nasty storm is entering Fauquier county. The possible tornado near Culpeper was positioned 6 miles to its southwest at 9:52 p.m. moving northeast at 40 mph.

9:45 p.m. update: TORNADO WARNING for portions of Orange, Madison and Culpeper county until 10:15 p.m. At 9:39 p.m. radar indicated severe thunderstorm capable of tornado 15 miles SW of Culpeper, moving NE at 45 mph. Locations potentially impacted include: LOCUST DALE... RAPIDAN... OAKPARK... MITCHELLS... FORDSVILLE... WINSTON...

9:25 p.m. update: TORNADO WARNING for portions of Spotsylvania, Orange, Stafford, Culpeper and Fauquier counties (near intersection of these five counties) until 10 p.m. Possible tornadic storm detected on radar at 9:22 p.m. over northern Spotsylvania county or 18 miles southeast of Culpeper moving northeast at 25 mph. Locations impacted include Dunavant, Storck, Goldvein, Holly Corner, and Hartword.

9:20 p.m. update: Still watching storms to southwest advance toward southern Fauquier county (arrival in next 30 minutes). They are not severe for the time being but merit watching. While we have this break, check this out: Frightening video of Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornado,, which has reportedly been on the ground for three hours now.

9:00 p.m. update: Outside a strong thunderstorm in Frederick county, we have a brief break in action with no severe thunderstorm or tornado warnings in effect. But there are more severe thunderstorms, which may rotate and spawn tornadoes, to the south that will move through the metro region in the next 1 to 2 hours (south to north).

8:40 p.m. update: The Flash Flood Warning which had been in effect for portions of Fairfax, Charles, Prince William, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s county has been cancelled.

8:20 p.m. update: A severe thunderstorm warning is now in effect until 9:15 p.m. for sections of Washington (Md), Frederick, (extrene western) Montgomery, (northern) Fauquier, (western two thirds) Loudoun, and (extreme northwest) Prince William county. The storm may produce winds above 60 mph and quarter size hail. Locations impacted include: Purcelville, Round Hill, Brunswick, Point of Rocks, Braddock Heights, Ballenger Creek, and Frederick.

8:00 p.m. update: Deep breath. Tornado warnings in metro region have expired and even the severe thunderstorm 9warning for Fauquier county (below) was cancelled.. However, we are not out of the woods by any stretch.

7:45 p.m. update:Now a new batch of storms from the south is moving into the region - just as the first batch of storms to the east and northeast moves away. A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for (south central) Fauquier, (eastern) Rappahannock and (northern) Culpeper counties until 8:30 p.m. Storm may produce damaging winds over 60 mph. In path: Turnbull, Warrenton, Orlean, Bethel, Airlie (up I-29) Winds to 60 mph possible with storm.

7:30 p.m. update: Flash flood warning now in effect for central AA, PG, east central Prince William, SE Fairfax and north central Charles co. until10:15 p.m. due to torrential thunderstorm rains. Never try to cross flooded roadways. Turn around don’t drown.

7:40 p.m. update: TORNADO WARNING for Carroll, Howard and Baltimore County until 8 p.m. At 7:26 p.m., doppler indicated tornado was 8 miles west of Ellicott City (7 miles west of Columbia) moving northeast at 30 mph. Possible locations impacted: Ellicott City, Woodlawn, Oakland, Randallstown, and Milford Mill.

7:33 p.m. update: New TORNADO WARNING for Charles and Prince George’s county until 8 p.m. Funnel cloud was spotted near Accokeek. Locations potentially impacted include Friendly, Oxon Hill, Clinton, Camp Springs, Marlow Heights, Andrews AFB, and Forestville

7:10 and 7:20 p.m. update: TORNADO WARNING for Prince George’s and Anne Arundel county until 7:45 p.m. Doppler indicated tornado was near Clinton at 7:05 p.m. moving northeast at 35 mph. In possible path: Andrews AFB, Largo, Upper Marlboro, Mitchellville and Bowie. A funnel cloud was reported with this storm 1 mile west of Clinton at 7:09 p.m.

7:05 p.m. update: A new severe thunderstorm warning has been posted for eastern Prince William and southeast Fairfax county until 7:45 p.m. - same areas hit already. Winds to 60 mph and quarter size hail are possible. The tornado warning for Charles county has been discontinued, but remains in effect in Prince George’s county until 7:15 p.m.

6:40 and 6:45 p.m update: A TORNADO WARNING has been issued for northwest Charles and southeast Prince George’s county until 7:15 p.m. Doppler radar indicated possible tornado near Indian Head in Charles co. moving NE at 25 mph. In path: Ft. Washington, Waldorf, and Friendly. This thunderstorm has a history of producing tornadoes (confirmed tornado in Prince William county earlier). Take cover. A funnel cloud was spotted at 6:43 p.m. in Potomac Heights in Charles county.

6:25 p.m. update: The tornado watch has been extended until 2 a.m. for the entire metro region.

6:35 p.m. update: Storms are now surrounding the beltway to the south and west. The strongest storm is in extreme southern Fairfax county. The tornado warning which had been in effect for that storm has been cancelled but the storm is still severe. This storm will move through the southern part of the District and Prince George’s county in the next 45 minutes.

6:20 p.m. update: A severe thunderstorm warning is now in effect for southeast Fairfax and eastern Prince William county until 7:00 p.m. Winds to 60 mph winds and ping pong size hail are possible with this storm. Locations impacted: Lorton, Newington, and Fort Belvior.

6:10 p.m. update: TORNADO WARNING for Stafford , Prince William and Fairfax co. (southeast part) in Va., and Charles co. in Md. until 6:45 p.m. Doppler radar has detected a possible tornado 6 miles north of Stafford moving northeast at 50 mph. In its possible path: Indian and Ft. Belvoir.

6:05 update: The cluster of strong to severe thunderstorms for which there have been warnings is now about 45 minutes to one hour south of the beltway. Additional storms - not yet severe- are moving into western Fauquier and southern Loudoun county.

5:50 p.m. update: TORNADO WARNING for Spotsylvania, Prince William and Stafford county in Va. and Charles county in Md. until 6:15 p.m. Locations in the path of possible tornado include STAFFORD ...TRIANGLE ...DUMFRIES... WOODBRIDGE... MONTCLAIR.. DALE CITY. Take cover immediately.

Old overview (last updated at 5:40 and 7:00 p.m.):A cluster of strong to severe thunderstorms is moving through the region from the south and southwest. The storms moving in have a history of producing hail and strong winds. They are likely to impact the metro region between 6:00 and 8 p.m from south to north. A tornado watch is in effect through 2 a.m. Strong tornadoes are unlikely, but weak tornadoes may spin up. If you are under a tornado warning, take cover immediately!!!