Thunderstorms bring tornado, flooding, outages in Mid Michigan

Posted at 7:37 PM, Mar 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-15 04:49:28-04

MICHIGAN -- Michigan State Police say first responders confirmed 21 homes were damaged Thursday evening by thunderstorms that spawned a tornado, and did widely-scattered damage across a wide swath of Mid Michigan.

National Weather Service surveyors will be busy Friday, surveying damage after Tornado Warnings were posted in Jackson, Genesee, Lenawee, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw counties - with substantial damage in some communities.

MSP/Bay Region tweeted at 10:18 p.m. Thursday that "MSP aviation will be flying the path of the tornado when the weather clears. Many more homes are suspected to have been damaged. We still do not have any confirmed injuries."

Fire & Rescue in Vernon (Shiawassee Co.) confirmed Thursday at 7:03 p.m. "lots of debris and two homes damaged from a confirmed tornado." The National Weather Service posted witness reports of a roof being blown off a house in Durand, just southeast of Vernon, in Shiawassee County. Trees six-to-10 inches in diameter were torn down - apparently by the same twister.

Meanwhile, that same powerful line of thunderstorms swept through West Michigan before making its way quickly to the east side of the state. The storms brought heavy rain and hail locally, bringing down power lines and trees, and dumping heavy rain onto already-saturated ground - causing significant road flooding.

Flood warnings were posted in the northern counties of the FOX 17 viewing area. There was significant flooding in Newaygo and Montcalm counties - from snow melt and heavy rain.

Photo from: Portage MI Police & Fire page on Facebook 3-14-2019

Portage Police & Fire posted on Facebook that high winds brought a tree down onto - and into - a house.

Tornado in Durand, MI. Photo courtesy: Patricia Rothney.

A National Weather Service 'Wind Advisory' was set to expire at 11 p.m. Thursday for most counties in the region, with winds occasionally gusting to more than 45 miles per hour. The top wind gust early in the evening was clocked in South Haven at 67 miles per hour.

Pea-sized to quarter-inch hail was reported in some locations, with golf ball-sized hail in northern Indiana - near the Michigan border.

Kent County Central Dispatch reported to FOX 17 a tree blocking Grand River Drive at 5 Mile Road northeast around 5:30 p.m. Water was over the road and blocking on 20 Mile Road near Red Pine Drive in northwest Kent County. In southeast Kent County, trees also were blocking 100th Street SE at Morse Avenue, and standing water was reported on 108th Street SE near Whitneyville Avenue.

Ottawa County Central Dispatchers told us standing water was reported on Cottonwood Drive at Bauer Road in Jenison, Chicago Drive near 48th Avenue in the Zeeland/Jamestown Township area, and 24th Avenue south of I-196 in Jamestown Township.

Allegan County Dispatch says 32nd Street had standing water near 134th Avenue in Monterrey Township

Many roads around the region have standing water over them. The Newaygo County Road Commission reported washouts in the following locations:

8th between Stone and Warner
Luce between 24th and 32nd
Dickinson between Luce and Baseline
12 Mile at Maple Island
Cottonwood at 128th
Cypress between 128th and 136th
Stone from 44th to State

Oceana County Road Commission had shut down M-120 (Maple Island), from 24th St. to 48th St.

Newaygo County Emergency Services offered flooding-safety tips in a public post, saying "Turn around, don't drown".

Photo courtesy: Heather Marie Braman

The first round of storms was followed by sunshine - and rainbows - in some areas.

At 6:40 p.m., the Consumers Energy Outage Map was showing 71 "active outages" affecting 2,173 customers in West Michigan.

Near the Allegan County/Van Buren County line, 417 outages were first reported at 5:35 p.m., according to the utility company. Estimated power-restoration time was 10 p.m. Just to the west, 94 customers were affected in Casco and Geneva townships, northeast of South Haven.

Near the Barry/Calhoun/Eaton county line, 59 Consumers' customers were in the dark. That outage was first reported at 6:24 p.m. and was scheduled to be restored quickly.

Farther to the north, in Newaygo County's Croton Township, the lights were out for 110 homes as of 5:34 p.m., with Consumers project power to be restored by 10 p.m.

Photo courtesy: Alyssa Ringler