Storm brings multiple tornadoes to West Michigan

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WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A large storm system that produced multiple tornadoes swept through West Michigan Saturday afternoon, bringing down trees and power lines, tearing roofs from homes and damaging a building at a blueberry farm in Van Buren County.

Saturday night, the National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-1 tornado was on the ground for about 15 minutes as it tore across eight miles in northern Ionia County and southern Montcalm County.

The NWS says the tornado touched down just east of the community of Orleans at 3:10 p.m. As it tracked northeast, it brought down trees — one onto a house. The tornado kept moving, it blew out the concrete wall of a garage and peeled shingles of off a house north of W. Long Lake Road. It then crossed the Montcalm County line and dissipated about 3.5 miles southeast of the village of Sheridan around 3:25 p.m.

EF-1s are among the weakest tornadoes — only EF-0s are weaker — and are marked by winds of between 86 and 110 mph. According to a preliminary report from the NWS, the peak winds in Saturday’s tornado were 90 mph. Its maximum width was 100 yards.

The NWS also confirmed there was a brief, weak EF-0 tornado in northeast Grand Rapids. That tornado touched down in the area of Perkins Avenue and Leonard Street and was on the ground for less than two minutes, traveling less than a mile.

Also Saturday afternoon, there were radar-confirmed tornadoes that ran from about:

  • Bangor to the Grand Junction area — spotters saw this tornado.
  • Fennville to Hamilton.
  • Jamestown Township to southern metro Grand Rapids — a trained spotter saw a tornado crossing 28th Street just west of Clyde Park Avenue in Wyoming.

The NWS is sending crews to survey the damage. Those surveys will confirm details of the tornadoes.

>>Complete coverage of the tornadoes

There were no reported injuries anywhere in West Michigan linked to Saturday’s storm.

Surveillance video shows a tornado over a soybean field in Bangor Township. (Aug. 20, 2016)

West Michigan generally sees tornadoes that are small, isolated, spin up suddenly and lift fairly quickly. Saturday’s situation didn’t conform to that. It’s possible there was a tornado or multiple tornadoes on the ground over 90 miles stretching from Van Buren northeast to Montcalm County.

There was confirmed rotation of the storm but no confirmed tornado in the city of Grand Rapids itself. It’s possible that the city buildings prevented rotation near the ground, Storm Team 8 said.

STORM DAMAGE IN METRO GRAND RAPIDS

Some residents in southern Grand Rapids said they saw a funnel cloud bring down some trees into the road.

“It wasn’t just a wind, it was a pure swirl,” said one resident named Jill.

“It was, like, in a rotation motion. The wind, it was blowing,” another resident named Mr. Dunlap said.

Passersby moved the trees from the road so fire trucks could get through. Those trucks were headed toward the Wyoming city line.

The Wyoming Department of Public Safety says preliminary indications are that a tornado touched down in the city.

“It appears there was a funnel cloud that was touching down in spots. It kind of hopped along,” Wyoming Public Safety Chief James Carmody said at a press conference Saturday night.

Trees were downed, damaging vehicles and some homes, and some streets were flooded. One tree fell on top of an SUV. The owner of that SUV told 24 Hour News 8 she was inside at the time and wasn’t hurt.

>>Photos of the storm damage

Authorities asked people to avoid the area of 36th Street SW and Byron Center Avenue as they cleaned up. Pinery, Lemery and Buck Creek parks are closed until further notice.

“We would ask for everyone’s cooperation in staying away from affected areas so that City response teams and Consumers Energy can do their jobs,” Carmody said in a statement.

Some traffic lights were out along 28th street; Wyoming police said they would have officers directing traffic.

The City of Wyoming is waiving building and inspection permits for residents whose property sustained damage in the storm. There will also be a resource center open at Gladiola Elementary, located at 3500 Gladiola Ave., to coordinate resources for residents, including tree removal help.

The Wyoming yard waste site at 2660 Burlingame Ave. will be open all day, every day until further notice, the city tweeted. You can call Public Works on Monday at 616.530.7260 to alert the city if you need something to be picked up — though the city reminds residents to be patient as it deals with the large amount of debris.

>>Resources for Wyoming residents after storm

Residents can also call 211 for information on shelters, debris drop-off locations or other needs.

STORM DAMAGE NEAR BANGOR

Further south, in Van Buren County, Michigan State Police said the storm seemed to have tracked from the area of 34th Avenue near 60 ½ St. in Bangor Township northeast through the city to the area of Baseline Road and 51st Street in Columbia Township. Police said storm damage was first reported just before 1:20 p.m.

In the city of Bangor, the damage appeared to be localized to about two blocks west of downtown. Police say there was structural damage at the Bangor Police Department, as well as several homes. The True Blue Blueberry Farm also sustained damage. The Columbia Township Hall near Grand Junction lost part of its roof in the storm.

MSP also said crews had to deal with natural gas leaks on Main Street in Bangor and on 16th Avenue in Grand Junction. Police reminded residents to report it if they smell natural gas or see downed power lines and stay away from the dangers.

Allegan County Emergency Manger Scott Corbin said a full damage assessment will be done Sunday, starting in the southern part of the county — near the damage in Bangor — and moving north.

LINES DOWN AND POWER OUTAGES

There are multiple reports of power lines down across West Michigan — more than 400 lines are down in Kent County alone, Consumers Energy said. You should never approach a downed power line. Assume a downed line is a power line rather than a telephone or cable line. Stay at least 25 feet away from the line or anything it is touching. Call 911 and Consumers and 800.477.5050 immediately.

Tens of thousands of Consumers customers in West Michigan lost power.

Consumers says it has extra repair crews on the job. Still, power may not be restored for some customers until Monday.

>>Power outage map

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