This pair of images from the Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) shows the strip of flattened and possibly denuded vegetation left by the F4 tornado (winds from 207 to 260 miles per hour, causing “devastating damage”) that struck La Plata, Maryland on April 28, 2002.
A number of severe thunderstorms swept through the mid-Atlantic states on April 28, bringing high winds, hailstones, and heavy rains to many areas. The intense storms spawned at least two tornadoes, one of which was classified as an F4 twister. The powerful tornado touched down in southern Maryland and ripped through the town of La Plata, destroying most of the historic downtown. The twister—the strongest ever recorded to hit the state and perhaps the strongest ever recorded in the eastern U.S.—flattened everything in its path along a 39 kilometer (24 mile) swath running west to east through the state.