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Time to plan for severe weather

Time to plan for severe weather

Don’t let a mild severe weather season last year fool you. According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Jamie Bielinski, there were 19 violent F4 and/or F5 tornadoes between 1953 and 1977. “We are overdue,” she sai, at a recent SkyWarn training.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Michigan experienced the lightest severe weather season in 2009 in the modern era of Doppler radar. Despite the lull in severe weather activity, significant flooding resulted in nearly $77 million in damages and severe thunderstorms were responsible for one death and approximately $150 million in damages. A total of 93 flooding and flash flooding events occurred across the state in 2009.

During 2009, approximately 75 percent of severe weather in the state occurred on five days: April 24 and 25, June 19, June 25 and August 9.  In the state, there were only 161 distinct severe weather events in 2009.  Only eight of those were recorded in Northern lower and upper Michigan. To put that number into perspective, in June 2008, there were 415 distinct severe weather events for the state.

This double tornado was one of 47 tornadoes that occurred on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965 and affected several states in the Midwest, including Michigan. This particular tornado hit the Midway Trailer park in Indiana, killing 33 people.

This double tornado was one of 47 tornadoes that occurred on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965 and affected several states in the Midwest, including Michigan. This particular tornado hit the Midway Trailer park in Indiana, killing 33 people.

During 2009, three tornadoes touched down in Michigan, which is well below the state’s annual average of 16 tornadoes. The last time Michigan experienced three or fewer tornadoes in a year, was nearly 40 years ago in 1970. All three tornadoes in 2009 hit during the evening of June 19, within a half hour and 30 miles of each other in Allegan and Kalamazoo counties. The first tornado touched down in Allegan County, damaging trees and structures alike.  Along the path of this EF-2 tornado, a pole barn was destroyed, doors of a garage blown in and a roof was ripped off an unoccupied home.  The other two tornadoes occurred in Kalamazoo County.  The first of these was rated an EF-1 and was on the ground for 1.8 miles, which caused major damage to an outbuilding as well as damaging trees and utility lines.  The second tornado, rated an EF-2, was on the ground for less than one mile and tore a roof off a ranch-style house and uprooted several trees. No injuries or deaths were reported during any of the three tornadoes.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted or is indicated on Doppler Radar.  Go immediately to the basement or a small interior room on the lowest level.  Keep away from chimneys and windows.  Leave mobile homes and find shelter in a sturdy building.

When a thunderstorm warning is issued for your area, get indoors immediately and do not use the telephone or electrical appliances. Keep away from windows. Do not take shelter in sheds or under isolated trees. If you are out boating and swimming, get to land and find a sturdy shelter immediately.

To prepare for severe weather, the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness suggests that you:

  • Plan ahead.  Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do in case of severe weather.  Make plans for those who may have trouble getting to shelter.
  • Have emergency supplies on hand, including a battery-operated radio, a flashlight and a fresh supply of batteries.
  • Know the shelter locations in public buildings, such as work, schools and shopping centers.
  • Make a list of household furnishings and other items.  Take photographs of each room.  Store the list and photos in safe place.
  • Have an emergency communication plan.  Know how to reach family and friends if you are unable to meet at home.
  • Create an emergency plan for your pets.

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