ALTO, Mich. -- An EF-0 tornado ripped through parts of southeastern Kent County Tuesday morning, generating winds up to 85 miles perhour. Eyewitnesses said it disappeared as quickly as it touched down.
"It was just wild and just the weirdest sound that you’ve ever heard, and stuff hitting your house. And you're hoping that nothing's going to come through the windows," said Beth Bivins, whose yard is littered with damaged trees.
While the tornado lasted only a few seconds, it was strong enough to uproot healthy trees and tear the shingles off of homes. National Weather Service meteorologist T.J. Turnage said their Doppler radar identified what they call a hook echo, which is the key to spottinga a tornado.
"The other thing we were seeing is the direction of the trees and the corn stalks that were toppled pointing towards the north," said Turnage. "The track of the Tornado was to the ENE, so it was actually across the track, which also suggests that you have winds blowing inward instead of outward." NWS took many indications into consideration before identifying the tornado hiding in the images of Tuesday morning's severe weather, Turnage said.
Bivins recalled it as one of the wildest experiences of her life. "We were just watching a show and all the sudden we heard what sounded like a freight train, this eerie sound," said Bivins. "My husband and I looked at each other and thought, 'What in the world was that?'"
"We were just speechless and didn’t know that much damage could happen that quickly," said Bivins. She and her neighbors are waiting for insurance adjustors to assess the damage, hoping the insurance companies will agree with Turnage that the damage was indeed caused by a tornado.
The tornado touched down near the intersection of 84th Street and Morse Lake Avenue SE, with tree damage and power outages in many areas
"Severe thunderstorms should be taken seriously," said Turnage, "because you can get these little tornadoes developing with any storm."