WEST MICHIGAN — Monday June 22, 2015 is a day at least a handful of communities will remember across the state of Michigan. In some cases two separate rounds of severe weather hit, one in the afternoon and another in the late evening/overnight. A week later the National Weather Service damage surveys are complete and the numbers are in.
Most of lower Michigan (including the FOX 17 viewing area) was in an “enhanced risk” for the possibility of severe weather development. The primary threats were damaging straight line winds and tornadoes. In fact, Michigan recorded five tornadoes across the state, damaging microburst winds, and some serious flooding.
The first reported damage occurred around the Wyoming area from microburst winds. There was some house damage and tree damage reported as dry air wrapped in to the mid-levels of a thunderstorm, evaporated some of the falling rain, and caused the cooler pool of air aloft to accelerate to the ground (as a microburst or downburst) and spread outward damaging things in its path. There is no rotation with this type of damage and the wind tends to spread outward in all directions, but on a smaller (micro) scale.
Then around 2:30 P.M. an EF-1 tornado blew through the city of Portland in Ionia County. It cut a four mile path north/west of the city, bounced/skipped from time to time damaging/destroying more than 70 structures, four churches, and hundreds of trees. The actual path was about four miles long and as wide as 100 yards. NWS survey data states it had 110 mph winds…almost an EF-2. Click here for more.
On the other side of our state four more tornadoes were confirmed ranging from EF-0 to EF-2. About 11:55 P.M. and EF-0 hit in St. Clair County three miles southwest of Emmett. It had 75 mph winds, was 50 yards wide, and had a path about .75 miles long. Click here for more.
At 1:31 A.M. Tuesday June 23, an EF-1 tornado with 100 mph winds hit Washtenaw County north/east of Manchester. It was 100 yards wide (a football field) and cut a path 4.4 long. There was some house damage and plenty of tree damage. Click here for more.
At 10:07 P.M. (Monday June 22) an EF-1 tornado hit Sanilac County beginning four miles northwest of Decker and ending two miles southeast of Deckerville. This one had 95 mph winds, was as wide as 250 yards, and had a damage path of 20 miles! This tornado was actually on the ground for about 35 minutes. Click here for more information.
The final tornado was the strongest to hit in the state and was classified as an EF-2. It started 2.9 miles east of Birch Run about 10:01 P.M. and traveled 11.2 miles and lifted about two miles east of Millington. It packed 115 mph winds and was 250 yards wide. It was on the ground for about 16 minutes and tracked from Saginaw County in to Tuscola County.Click here for more information.
To recap…that’s five tornadoes, one microburst, and some significant flooding across places like northern Calhoun County where three to five inches of rain occurred washing out roads and flooding several locations. You can click here to see actual radar movement of these storms…courtesy of the Detroit/Pontiac National Weather Service.
I would consider this a fairly significant event! That said, there are still those pessimistic folks that say “I only got some heavy rain for five minutes or a bolt or two of lightning!” Be thankful that it wasn’t your house that an EF-1 or EF-2 tornado ripped the roof from. We’ll never know if/when/where these tornadoes will occur, but we knew for at least two/three days in advance we would be in an environment conducive to seeing tornadoes and/or damaging straight line winds. We actually had at least two or three separate areas of rotation (in addition to every thing we mentioned) across northern Kalamazoo and northern Calhoun Counties between 10:30 and 11:00 P.M., but no other touchdowns were confirmed.