baltimoresun.com

« Thursday's high at BWI a mere 80 degrees | Main | Showers, storms this weekend; heat returns »

August 5, 2011

17 died in Md. thunderstorms 40 years ago

FROM TODAY'S PRINT EDITIONS:

Flooding Aug. 1, 1971It was one of Maryland’s worst natural disasters, claiming 17 lives. But few remember after 40 years. Bruce Sullivan does. A senior forecaster at the National Center for Environmental Prediction, he said a line of severe thunderstorms formed along a stalled front over Baltimore and Harford counties on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 1, 1971. They dumped more than 12 inches of rain in six hours. Rivers and creeks flooded. Most of the dead drowned. Scores more needed rescue. 

One of the most wrenching stories to come out of the storms was the heroism of Charles H. Schafferman, 26, of Essex. He was a non-swimmer, and he was on crutches from an ankle injury. He nevertheless plunged into floodwaters to rescue at least eight people stranded in the 6500 block of Pulaski Highway. The Navy veteran and tractor-trailer driver was last seen going to the aide of two children trapped on top of a car that had stalled in six feet of water. His body was found at Pulaski Highway and North Point Road after the water receded. He was nominated posthumously for a police department civilian heroism award.

At least four more people died trying to rescue others. They were volunteer firefighters Douglas Mueller, 18; Charles Hopwood, 42, Warren E. Shaffer, 22 and Milton C.R. DeSombre, 49, all from the Cowenton and Bowley's Quarters volunteer companies. They were trying to pull  a car and its occupants to safety in rain-swollen Bean Creek off Route 7 when they were swept into the creek and drowned. The car's driver died, too, but the man's wife and another firefighter were rescued after clinging to a tree for two hours. 

(SUN PHOTO: Aug. 1, 1971)  

Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:06 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: From the Sun's print edition
        

Comments

Frank,

Many thanks for this item. It reminds people that we don't have to have a tornado or a major hurricane to cause a weather disaster. Ironically, less than a year later, another 19 in Maryland were killed when the remnants of Hurricane Agnes, a relatively mild Cat 1 storm that made landfall way down in the Gulf Coast, stalled over the mid-Atlantic region. Much of central Maryland was initially hit by flash floods, then a few days later, heavy rains from PA and NY caused flooding along the Susquehanna. Two of the worst weather disasters in modern Maryland history in successive summers.

Ed McDonough
Maryland Emergency Management Agency
Public Information Officer

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Sign up for FREE weather alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for weather text alerts
SKY NOTES WEATHER

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Maryland Weather Center


Area Weather Stations
Resources and Sun coverage
• Weather news

• Readers' photos

• Data from the The Sun's weather station

• 2011 stargazers' calendar

• Become a backyard astronomer in five simple steps

• Baltimore Weather Archive
Daily airport weather data for Baltimore from 1948 to today

• National Weather Service:
Sterling Forecast Office

• Capital Weather Gang:
Washington Post weather blog

• CoCoRaHS:
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Local observations by volunteers

• Weather Bug:
Webcams across the state

• National Data Buoy Center:
Weather and ocean data from bay and ocean buoys

• U.S. Drought Monitor:
Weekly maps of drought conditions in the U.S.

• USGS Earthquake Hazards Program:
Real-time data on earthquakes

• Water data:
From the USGS, Maryland

• National Hurricane Center

• Air Now:
Government site for air quality information

• NWS Climate Prediction Center:
Long-term and seasonal forecasts

• U.S. Climate at a Glance:
NOAA interactive site for past climate data, national, state and city

• Clear Sky Clock:
Clear sky alerts for stargazers

• NASA TV:
Watch NASA TV

• Hubblesite:
Home page for Hubble Space Telescope

• Heavens Above:
Everything for the backyard stargazer, tailored to your location

• NASA Eclipse Home Page:
Centuries of eclipse predictions

• Cruise Critic: Hurricane Zone:
Check to see how hurricanes may affect your cruise schedule

• Warming World:
NASA explains the science of climate change with articles, videos, “data visualizations,” and space-based imagery.

• What on Earth:
NASA blog on current research at the space agency.
Most Recent Comments
Blog updates
Recent updates to baltimoresun.com news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected