Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week

Each year Severe Weather affects Michigan in multiple ways, whether it be a Severe Thunderstorm, Tornado, Extreme Heat, or Blizzards.

Governor Jennifer Granholm has declared the week of April 6-12, 2008 as Severe Weather Awareness week in Michigan. You can download the 2008 Severe Weather Awareness Week packet by clicking here. You can also visit the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness site.

The National Weather Service has devoted a page to Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan.

MCSWA Press Release - Severe Weather Takes Four Lives In 2007

(LANSING, MI) - Twenty-two tornadoes, including the first EF-3 or greater tornado in 10 years, struck Michigan last year, which is well above the average of 16. Severe weather across the state was responsible for four deaths (three tornado fatalities and one lightning fatality), 11 injuries, and over $150 million in damages. The tornado deaths are the first in Michigan since 1997. As another severe weather season approaches, Governor Jennifer Granholm has declared April 6-11 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan.

"Last year's severe weather season was well above average for Michigan," said Lori Conarton, Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness Chair. "This lead to many local tragedies where homes, businesses and lives were destroyed. Since Michigan weather can change swiftly, it is important to monitor weather conditions and take seriously watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service."

The Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourages residents to review tornado safety procedures, and to have a preparedness plan in place. Members of the committee are: National Weather Service, Department of Environmental Quality, American Red Cross, Insurance Institute of Michigan, Emergency Management Association, Michigan Department of State Police, WDIV-TV, State Farm Insurance and Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association and the fire service.

Michigan's active severe weather season actually started relatively quiet, with only one significant severe weather episode on May 15 when severe thunderstorms struck mainly extreme southern lower and all of southeast lower Michigan during the afternoon and evening. Winds up to 80 mph and hail as large as baseballs caused nearly $500,000 in damages.

Hail generated a large amount of damage across Michigan. A monster hailstorm hit downtown Marquette and surrounding areas during the afternoon of June 20. Golf ball sized hail piled up to several inches deep in downtown Marquette. There were also reports of hail up to 3 inches in diameter. Damage estimates to automobiles, roofs, and siding in and around the Marquette area are in excess of $60 million. Another group of prolific hail producing storms formed in northern lower Michigan on July 5 near Long Rapids, Lachine, and Alpena, with hail as large as half-dollars covering the ground in spots. These storms then moved across the Saginaw, Flint and Detroit metro regions. Two hailstorms formed during the evening of July 26, one over Shiawassee County and the other near Adrian. Together these storms caused nearly $7 million in damages. The hardest hit area was Durand where golf ball sized hail pounded the community for over 30 minutes. The storm damaged nearly every house, vehicle and crop in the immediate area.

The season ended with not one, but two rare late season tornado outbreaks. On August 24, six tornadoes developed across south central and southeast lower Michigan. An EF-3 tornado with wind speeds estimated at 140 mph, struck Eaton County, the strongest tornado to hit the state since 1997. The tornado resulted in five injuries but no fatalities and damage was estimated at $40 million. The tornado cut a path 200 to 300 yards wide and 6.5 miles long. An EF-2 tornado with wind speeds estimated at 130 mph, struck Livingston, Genesee and Oakland Counties hitting the city of Fenton the hardest. This tornado only caused one injury but nearly $25 million in damages. The tornado cut a path that was 440 yards wide and about 25 miles long. Other EF-1 tornados hit the south and east sides of Lansing, and the community of Hadley in Lapeer County.

During the afternoon, evening and overnight hours of October 18, one of Michigan largest tornado outbreaks developed across lower Michigan. In all, 11 tornadoes struck taking three lives, the first tornado related fatalities in Michigan since 1997. Six of those tornadoes occurred in northern lower Michigan, making it the largest single-day tornado outbreak for that region of the state. Unfortunately, an EF-2 tornado near Kalkaska resulted in one of the state’s fatalities. This was the first tornado related fatality in northern lower Michigan since 1976. An EF-2 tornado with winds estimated up to 130 mph, struck Ingham County resulting in two fatalities near Williamston. Other EF-2 tornadoes struck Long Rapids, Luzerne and Hubbard Lake. EF-1 tornadoes hit near Black Lake, McCollum Lake, Millington, Deford and Port Hope.

Although southern Michigan traditionally experiences more severe weather than northern Michigan, the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness emphasizes the entire state is at risk for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, hail, floods and lightning.

The committee reminds all citizens in Michigan the best time to prepare for severe weather is before it happens. Plan ahead. Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do when severe weather threatens, whether they are at home, at work, or in school. Immediately seek the nearest shelter if caught outside when a thunderstorm approaches. If a tornado warning is issued for your county or if you feel threatened by the storm, go to the basement and get under something sturdy. If no basement is available, go to an interior part of the building on the lowest level. A good rule of thumb is to put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, or local radio, television and cable stations for the latest weather updates.

Governors Declaration

Whereas, Severe weather, in the form of thunderstorms, wind storms, floods, and tornadoes, is a threat to the safety and welfare of all Michigan citizens; and,

Whereas, Each year, more than 1,000 tornadoes strike the United States, including an average of sixteen tornadoes in Michigan annually; and,

Whereas, Since 1950, 896 tornadoes have been reported in the State of Michigan, resulting in substantial loss of life and property damage; and,

Whereas, Michigan citizens are vulnerable to the devastating effects of tornadoes, flash floods and other severe weather; and,

Whereas, There were 11 injuries, 4 fatalities, and nearly $150 million in property damage in 2007 due to severe weather in Michigan; and,

Whereas, Our citizens should be aware of the early warning signs of severe weather and of proper safety and emergency procedures; and,

Whereas, Each year, the state, the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, and other emergency management officials, in conjunction with the news media, cooperate to educate the public about the dangers of tornadoes and other severe weather events and about the precautions that can be taken to save lives and protect families; and now therefore be it,

Resolved, That I, Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of the State of Michigan, do hereby proclaim the week of April 6, 2008, as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan and I encourage all citizens to learn more about protecting themselves, their families, and their homes.