NWS damage survey reveals no tornado

Posted at 10:40 PM, Sep 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-12 22:40:44-04

GRAND RAPIDS, MI. — At least two damage survey teams from the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids were out and about West Michigan on Thursday following the severe weather that blasted through the area on Wednesday evening. Their conclusion? Straight line winds, not a tornado did the damage.

While a tornado warning was in effect for parts of Kent County (including the Grand Rapids metro area) and Ionia County, their survey concluded that damaging, straight line winds between 65 and 80 mph occurred from Grand Rapids to Ada. Isolated straight line winds of up to 100 mph likely tore the roofs from buildings in/around Belknap Hill on the northeast side of Grand Rapids. Doppler radar in velocity mode certainly exhibited rotation, but there’s never a way to tell with any degree of certainty (unless spotters see it first hand) if a tornado is actually on the ground. The thumbnail attached to this story shows the velocity data in red and green (a velocity couplet as it’s called) and how fast the winds speeds are and where. Meteorologists from the weather service stated that “there was a lack of evidence of lofted debris.”

When tornadoes tear up structures, towns, and areas, they generally pick up and throw (or loft) building materials or debris high into the air. While there was some evidence of minor twisting and turning damage on the ground, there was a significant lack of lofted debris in trees or items thrown far from their point of origin. As a result, at this time they have concluded no tornado.

From Ada to Woodbury to Lake Odessa, 70 to 80 mph estimated wind speeds occurred. Lowell reported had estimated wind speeds of 75 mph. The NWS will continue damage surveys on Friday from Grand Rapids westward this time…around U.S. 131 to Walker, and over to Marne.

More storms arrive overnight and continue through Friday morning and midday. Some may be strong, but any organized severe or widespread storms are not likely. Get the complete West Michigan forecast at