Hopefully, we’re done with tornadoes in Michigan this year. We’ve recorded 19 twisters in Michigan in 2023, that compares to an average number of 16 tornadoes (top. pic. is me by a large uprooted tree in Alpine Township after an EF1 tornado damaged dozens of homes and buildings and knocked down hundreds along a nearly 9-mile path on the evening of August 24). That tornado had estimated winds of 110 mph and was 100 yards wide (as wide as a football field is long).
August 24 was Michigan’s biggest tornado day. Statewide, we had 8 confirmed twisters. There were 27 tornadoes that evening/night from Michigan to western Pennsylvania that evening fed by very humid air. The dewpoint approached 80 in Grand Rapids that day.
Another tornado that evening occurred east of Lansing near Williamston. That twister moved right down I-96 for 1 1/2 miles overturning 14 semis and a number of other vehicles. There was one fatality and 3 injuries. There was another storm-related fatality in Lansing that evening. The Williamston tornado was rated EF2 with winds up to 125 mph.
That evening, there were 36 reports of wind damage in southern Lower Michigan and 1 report of large hail. At my house in Alpine Township, I estimated we had winds of 55 -60 mph, the fastest wind I have seen since the derecho of May 31, 1998.
On July 12 an EF1 tornado hit in Colon, Michigan. The twister formed on the east shore of Palmer Lake and moved across M-86 east from St. Joseph County into Branch County.
Here’s the preliminary totals for the entire U.S. for 2023. We’ve had 1358 tornadoes. Most of them were relatively small (EF0 or EF1). Sixty-five had been rated EF2 or higher. We’ve had 17,441 reports of severe wind and 6,890 reports of severe criteria hail (1″ in diameter or greater).
The graph above is interesting. It’s from the Storm Prediction Center. What they do is take the number of reported tornadoes and multiply that number by 0.85. This is an educated guess. The preliminary tornado count will include some tornadoes that are counted more than once – perhaps the same tornado seen from different angles – maybe even reported from different towns.
So far this year, that number is 1154 (black line), which is 96 below the average number of tornadoes-to-date of 1,242. We started with an above average number of tornadoes and lately, the tornado count has really come down. We had only 22 reported tornadoes in the entire U.S. in September and 31 in October. We’ve had only one tornado in the U.S. in November. That was a small, short-lived EF0 tornado near Canyon City, Oregon on November 5th.
Nationally, we’ve had 75 tornado fatalities. Mississippi is the state with the most fatalities (24) and Tennessee is second with 10 fatalities. Michigan has had just the one tornado fatality on 8/24 with the Williamston tornado.
Seventy-three of 75 tornado fatalities occurred within a defined Tornado Watch. One other tornado was in a Severe Thunderstorm Watch. The Storm Prediction Center does an amazing job with the watches and you need to pay attention when they issue one for our area.
Of the 75 fatalities, 46 occurred in mobile homes. During a tornado event, it’s often best (if you have time) to leave a mobile home and move to more suitable structure. 13 tornado deaths occurred in houses and 7 in permanent homes. There were 6 fatalities to victims in vehicles. Two others were outdoors.
The biggest tornado day of the year was March 31. We had 766 severe reports that day. On the map above, each red dot represents a tornado, each blue dot is a wind damage report and each green dot is a report of severe hail. There were 163 tornadoes, 371 wind damage reports and 170 reports of large hail.
This is a drone shot of one of the twisters that day – this tornado was on the ground for 27.7 miles in Illinois and then 13.2 miles in Indiana – for a total of 40.9 miles. There were 3 fatalities and 8 injuries with this tornado, which had estimated peak winds of 150 mph.
We have not had a tornado rated EF5 this year. We’ve had 2 tornadoes rated EF4 – on 3/24 in Rolling Fork MS and on 3/31 near Keota IA. Twenty-eight twisters have been rated EF3, 121 have been rated EF2, 413 rated EF1 and 387 have been rated EF0 (the rest have not been rated.
Tornadoes this year in the U.S. have cost an estimated 524 million dollars in damage.
There have been 63 tornadoes in Canada, including a strong EF4 tornado at Didsbury, Alberta on July 1.
Worldwide there have been 108 tornado fatalities (75 in the U.S.). Fatalities by country: China 12, Indonesia 9, Myanmar 8, Turkey 3, Saudi Arabia 1.