The Fruitport Storm of August 9, 2009

Bill's Blog

On August 9, 2009, a severe thunderstorm hit mainly Ottawa, Muskegon and Kent Counties around the dinner hour. Fruitport was the hardest hit. The storm also produced damage in Spring Lake, Grand Haven, Ravenna, Kent City, Conklin and Sparta.

One man was killed when a large branch fell on his moving car. If I remember right, that was on Mercury Dr. Look at the map above. It shows severe weather reports from August 9. There was a solid swath of wind damage from Nebraska to Michigan. Note also the severe storms that moved from Toronto, Canada southeast to Delaware. Here’s another close lightning strike in Toronto and frequent lightning in NY.

Nearly half a million dollars in damage was done to a school near Jackson MI. The storm left 8,200 customers without power just in Muskegon County. A downed tree blocked part of I-96 near Fruitport. Apple trees were blown over near Conklin and south of Kent City.

After the storm in Iowa

The pic. above was taken after the storm in Iowa. There is still hail on the ground. The hail cooled the air to the dewpoint and fog formed. Here’s a summary from the National Weather Service on the storm in Iowa:

On the morning of August 9, 2009, an impressive supercell thunderstorm rolled across northern Iowa leaving roughly a 150-mile path of destruction that folks still talk about today. The storm began in west-central Iowa and quickly produced baseball size hail at 8:18 a.m. CT in Wall Lake, Iowa. This is somewhat unconventional given the time of day as strong storms of this nature typically develop during the peak heating of the day.  Not long after the baseball hail, 75 mph winds (with the large hail) destroyed crops and broke many windows in and around the town of Somers, Iowa. Further east, an amazing video caught this wind-driven hail in Otho, Iowa.  A 2-mile wide swath of hail damage to crops was found near Interstate 35 north of Ellsworth and that wasn’t even the strongest part of the storm.  The photo at the bottom right was taken shortly after the storm near Callender, Iowa (south of Fort Dodge).

Between 10:30 and 10:30 a.m. CDT, 102 mph winds were measured in Eldora with hail up to 3 inches in diameter! This combination caused devastating damage to every home in town and any vehicle not in a garage as well as severe tree and crop damage near Eldora.  Prior to the storm, the corn was 6 feet tall and the beans were fully mature but were both completely shredded.   The hail damage path was clearly visible from the air (See image below).   

This is damage seen from outer space by the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). The satellite took some amazing images.  MODIS is aboard NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites which are part of the Earth Observing System (EOS) program by NASA.   These NASA satellites are polar orbiting satellites (polar vs geostationary) and the Terra and Aqua captured the crop damage swath across northern Iowa.

45,000 acres of crops were deemed completely lost while 60% or greater loss of crops occurred on another 55,000 acres.   In Hardin County alone, a 150 square mile area had substantial crop damage. The total estimated damage to crops were over $175 million across northern Iowa and 8 counties were declared a federal disaster area.  Damage to the homes and vehicles in the town of Eldora were greater than the EF-5 tornado that struck Parkersburg in 2008. Wind-driven hail storms can and do produce catastrophic damage and in some cases even worse damage than tornadoes.”

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