GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — March 8, 2017 was an extremely windy day. Wind gusts over much of southern lower Michigan reached 55 to 70 mph.
On rare occasions, we get winds like that in thunderstorms, but this was a mostly sunny day. In fact, we had 100% of possible sunshine that day at the Ford Airport in Grand Rapids. If it were storming, you probably would have been inclined to stay hunkered down, but because it was sunny, more people were out and about.
It was also a widespread event affecting all of lower Michigan. Over 1.1 million customers lost electricity that day. Over 1,000 utility poles and 8,000 separate wires had to be replaced.
A roof was taken off a building in Clarksville by the strong winds. It was on Main Street in the downtown area.
The building was the site of the old Nash Opera House, which was built in the late 1800s. Since that time, it has housed several community businesses, including the public library until two weeks ago.
Travel was difficult in the strong wind, especially for emptied semis. Several of them were tipped over by the strong winds.
Waves on Lake Michigan were huge. Note the spray going over 50 feet high as a wave crashed into the lighthouse. The lighthouse on the left is 30 feet tall. There was a considerable amount of blowing sand at the beaches.
Peak wind gusts that day: 68 mph at Detroit and Saginaw, 64 mph at Grand Rapids, 62 mph at Ionia, Jackson and East Grand Rapids, 59 mph at Battle Creek, 58 mph at Kalamazoo and 55 mph at Grand Haven.
There were two fatalities on M-115 in Clare County, when a tree fell on a moving car. Several semi-trucks were tipped over by the strong winds.