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Six tornadoes hit West Michigan 

Tornado damage at Burton and Burlingame SW, Wyoming. Photo credit Lacey Wakefield.

Tornado damage at Burton and Burlingame SW, Wyoming. Photo credit Lacey Wakefield.

The National Weather Service confirmed that six tornadoes occurred in West Michigan on Saturday afternoon, August 20, including two in the Grand Rapids metro area.

Damaging straight-line wind gusts have also been noted near the tornado paths.

Sirens went off here in Cedar Springs, and while we had some intense rain, we didn’t suffer the effects of the tornado. According to the National Weather Service, the following areas in West Michigan experienced tornadoes:

EF-1 tornado damage was found between Bangor and Grand Junction, ending in far southern Allegan County.

An EF-1 tornado touched down just southwest of Bangor Michigan on Saturday, August 20th about 1:13 p.m. and tracked northeast through town. The entire city lost power as well as hundreds of trees. Multiple structures in Bangor were damaged as well. Roof damage was noted on Main Street. New Beginning Ministries and the Bangor Police Department sustained damage. The tornado then tracked further northeast, causing significant damage at True Blue Farms along County Road 215 and the Columbia Township Hall in Grand Junction. The tornado tracked into extreme southern Allegan County before lifting about 2.5 miles northeast of Grand Junction on 103rd Ave west of 52nd Street about 1:31 p.m.

A tornado (EF-1) southeast of Fennville, to east of Hamilton, in Allegan County.

Tornado damage in Bangor. Photo credit South Haven Emergency Services.

Tornado damage in Bangor. Photo credit South Haven Emergency Services.

After the first tornado of the day (EF-1) tracked from Bangor to north of Grand Junction, the second tornado of the day began 6 miles southeast of Fennville about 1:42 p.m. and tracked to 4 miles northeast of Hamilton and was rated EF-1. It ended about 2:10 p.m.

A tornado (EF-1) south of Jamestown in far northern Allegan County and Southeastern Ottawa County.

The day’s third tornado, also rated EF-1, began 2 miles northwest of Burnips in extreme north-central Allegan County about 2:18 p.m. and tracked to 2 miles southeast of Jamestown in extreme southeast Ottawa County. It ended at 2:26 p.m.

EF-0 tornado damage was found in Grandville and Wyoming. EF-0 to EF-1 wind damage was also found south and east of this tornado across parts of Byron Township, Wyoming, Grand Rapids, and East Grand Rapids.

An EF-0 tornado touched down near 44th Street and Ivanrest Ave SW in Grandville Michigan on Saturday August 20th about 2:34 p.m. and continued on the ground along a varying path through Grandville and Wyoming before lifting near the intersection of Nagel Avenue SW and Chicago Drive SW about 2:44 p.m. Though the tornado remained west of US-131, it did zigzag across a number of major roads/intersections in the Grand Rapids metro area including Ivanrest Avenue SW just north of Rivertown Parkway; the intersection of Byron Center Ave SW and 36th Street; 28th Street SW near Sharon Avenue SW; Porter Street SW near Boulevard Drive SW; and Burlingame Avenue SW just north of Burton Street SW. Along the path, hundreds of trees were damaged or knocked over resulting in tens of thousands of power outages. Many homes and a number of vehicles were damaged from fallen trees. A couple notable locations the tornado moved through include the Wyoming Middle School football field where a set of football field goal posts were bent by soccer goals, and Battjes Park and Prairie Park where a number of trees were damaged or uprooted.

In addition to an EF-0 tornado that moved through portions of Grandville and Wyoming on August 20th, National Weather Service damage surveys identified areas of straight line wind damage in Kent County from August 20th storms.

Estimated winds of around 100mph, were equivalent to EF-1 wind damage. A small area of wind damage caused by estimated 100 mph winds was found near M6 between Ivanrest Ave SW and Kenowa Avenue SW. South of M6, Ironwood Golf Course saw the worst of the damage losing a significant number of large trees. North of M6, just west of Wilson Ave SW along 64th Street, a number of very large trees were uprooted causing significant damage to one home.

Estimated winds of 65 to 75 mph equivalent to EF-0 wind damage were  also seen. A long stretch of straight line wind damage occurred from just northeast of the intersection of M6 and Wilson Avenue SW through East Grand Rapids. Notable locations that were impacted by straight line winds include Maple Hill Golf Course and Pinery Park. This damage was mainly to trees with a few fallen trees resulting in damage to homes.

Northeast Grand Rapids EF-0 Tornado. 

A brief tornado touched down in Kent County about 2:50 p.m. near Perkins Avenue NE between Leonard Street NE and Knapp Street NE. Tree damage and some property damage from fallen trees occurred as the result of this brief tornado, which lifted about 2:52 p.m.

A tornado (EF-1) between Orleans and Fenwick in Ionia and Montcalm Counties.

Tornado damage began just east of the small town of Orleans about 3:10 p.m. and moved northeast where it crossed M-44, bringing several large trees down, one of which fell on a house. The tornado then crossed West Long Lake Road where the concrete block wall of a garage was blown out and the wind peeled shingles off the roof of a house. A path of tree damage about a hundred yards wide continued to the northeast and narrowed as it crossed the Montcalm County line. The last damage noted was a few downed trees on East Boyer Road about 3.5 miles southeast of Sheridan. It lifted about 3:25 p.m.

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Are you prepared for severe weather?

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.

April 15-21 is severe weather awareness week


Wednesday (yesterday) was the 47th anniversary of the April 11, 1965 Palm Sunday tornadoes—the second deadliest tornado outbreak in history. There were 47 tornadoes in five states, including 12 tornadoes in Michigan. The F4 that moved through Ottawa County and northern Kent County went for 21 miles, caused 142 injuries, and 5 deaths. Counting all five states, there were 271 fatalities and 1,500 were injured that day.

Following that particular tornado outbreak, the NOAA National Weather Service underwent changes to improve severe weather forecasts and warnings, including establishing the Watch and Warning Program that exists today and the weather spotter program, SKYWARN.

Next week, April 15-21, is severe weather awareness week, and the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness wants to make sure residents are prepared for possible severe weather, including tornadoes, lighting, flooding, or thunderstorm winds.

According to the National Weather Service, there were four deaths and 31 injuries in Michigan from severe weather in 2011. All of the deaths and injuries resulted from either lightning or thunderstorm winds. Flooding, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes were responsible for about $150 million in damages in 2011, down from the $360 million in damages in 2010.

In 2011, there were 15 tornadoes across the state, which is very close to the average of 16. Fortunately, only four of the 15 tornadoes in 2011 caused significant damage, and six of the 15 tornadoes didn’t cause any damage. It could be argued that prior to the proliferation of cameras over the past couple of decades that those six non-damaging tornadoes may have never been recorded.

Lightning was also an issue. A family was on a tubing outing on the Au Sable River on July 23 when a thunderstorm rapidly developed, and they attempted to exit the river and find shelter. They had just exited the river when three of the individuals were struck by lightning. Two women were pronounced dead at the scene. A man was transported to a hospital in Saginaw in critical condition. He would survive, but require a 10-day hospital stay and considerable physical therapy. The survivor had no recollection of the incident.

What should you do in case of severe weather?

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.

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 of a permanent structure. A good rule of thumb is to put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible. Keep away from chimneys and windows. Broken glass and wind-blown projectiles cause more injuries and deaths than collapsed buildings. Protect your head with a pillow, blanket, or mattress. Leave mobile homes and find shelter in a sturdy building.

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.

Click here to find out facts on tornadoes, lightning and flood safety, and tips to prepare a plan to evacuate your pet







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