ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — People are continuing to clean up from the severe weather that quickly moved through West Michigan Thursday night and caused frustration that a tornado warning wasn’t issued sooner.

A severe thunderstorm warning was in place, which included a possibility of tornados forming rapidly, when the tornado developed. The National Weather Service says the speed at which the tornado developed provided less lead time for issuing a warning.

Many people living in the area say they did not get a warning until after the tornado had moved through the area, according to Amanda Loudin who lives in Comstock Park.

“That wind pushed us back in the house. We had the dog in the house and that’s when we got the notification is when it already hit,” Loudin said.

Adam Schuiling, who also lives in the area, says he could sense the weather was becoming more intense. 

“I just heard a weird noise, rumbling so I just told the kids and my wife to get downstairs and by the time we got downstairs it had hit,” Schuiling said.

Bruce Smith a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Grand Rapid showed News 8 radar scans from the area last Thursday night.

  • Radar shows the Aug. 24, 2023, storm that spawned a tornado in Alpine and Plainfield townships.
  • Radar shows rotation during the Aug. 24, 2023, storm that spawned a tornado in Alpine and Plainfield townships.

“The initial severe thunderstorm warning for the areas that were impacted came out at 8:07 p.m. and we upgraded that to a tornado warning at 8:22 p.m.,” Smith said. “You brought together these two cells with a very unstable airmass and the vertical motion that resulted from that merger helped to produce that tornado.”

The EF1 tornado had wind speeds of 110 miles per hour and was on the ground for nearly nine miles.

“Many times with the strongest types of tornados EF3’s (and) EF4’s you will see circulation that will be in place for tens of minutes before the tornado touches down but for EF0’s and EF1’s, which this tornado was, oftentimes the ability to provide substantial lead time is greatly limited because these tornados spin up so rapidly,” Smith said.

The severe thunderstorm warning indicated that tornados were possible and that’s why the NWS says people should take them seriously as well. 

“Folks really need to understand that severe thunderstorms can produce damage that’s comparable to weak tornados and in fact, if you draw a line from where this tornado occurred through the Lowell, Seranac area, toward Lansing there’s a swath of damage that some would say is tornadic but that was all straight-line winds,” Smith said.