GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Spring brings a higher chance for tornadoes in West Michigan.

Early spring is statistically the most likely time for Michigan to experience a violent tornado, rating EF4 or higher. The reason for the spike in tornado chances is due to the volatile weather pattern changes often experienced as the state shakes winter and enters into a warmer spring.

During this transition time, the jet stream frequently brings sharp changes from warm to cold weather, and this can be a perfect breeding ground for individual strong storms to form. In general the state of Michigan averages 16 tornadoes each year, or 160 by decade.

Tornadoes can spin up quickly, although ‘severe weather risk’ days are usually identifiable several days in advance.

One of the best ways to be prepared is to monitor which days of the week pose the biggest risk for severe weather, and to have increased weather awareness on those days.

If a tornado warning is issued for your area, it means a storm with the potential of producing a tornado is moving close by. Go inside, go to the lowest level of a sturdy structure, stay away from windows and take cover. Experts say wearing helmets and covering yourself with a bedsheet are good ways to stay safe from dangerous, flying debris.

While the vast majority of tornadoes Michigan sees are weaker on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, occasionally a very strong one can strike. A good example of this is the EF3 tornado that hit Gaylord, Michigan in May of 2022.

Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness week takes place from March 19 to March 25. A statewide voluntary tornado drill will take place on Wednesday, March 22. Now is a great time to review emergency plans and the best places to go if severe weather strikes with your family and workplace.