WEST MICHIGAN — Several severe warnings were issued across southern Lower Michigan on Wednesday evening as strong to severe thunderstorms moved quickly across the area. Coldwater reported a 72 mph wind gust and Fremont in Newaygo County and Twin Lake In Muskegon County both reported hail.
Much of the area experienced heavy rain and frequent lightning, but some of the heaviest rain from training thunderstorms occurred across our southern counties where at least two to three inches has fallen.
The National Weather Service also issued SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNINGS for Oceana, Muskegon, and Ottawa Counties before 11 P.M. for the possibility of strong, damaging 85 mph straight line winds from a bow echo. There was even rotation on radar showing the possibility of an isolated tornado as these storms came on shore. Luckily, these were elevated storms (forming above the surface) and the actual damaging winds did not mix down to the ground.
As FOX 17 was live on air and online during the event, it reminded me of the 1998 derecho that blasted through this area. Although not even close to the same strength, or nearly as long lived or well defined, that event reminded me immediately that damaging winds of a significant magnitude were at least possible. This particular event was more of a mini-bow echo…or line of thunderstorms crossing Lake Michigan and “bowing” outward forming an apex of strong winds. A derecho is typically a long-lived, widespread damaging wind event.
While we received no damage reports and no power outages, we were lucky. Our radar showed the possibility of damaging winds and rotation, but they simply never mixed down to the surface from the elevated convection.
Another round of heavy rain and strong to severe storms are possible Thursday night, so make sure to stay up on later forecasts. The thumbnail attached to this story is the severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center for Thursday and Thursday night. Lower Michigan remains in a “MARGINAL” risk, the lowest threat level. Hail and wind are the primary threats. Get the complete West Michigan forecast at www.fox17online.com/weather.