Recap of Thursday’s deadly tornadoes, severe wind gusts


Extreme severe thunderstorms raked across Michigan Thursday evening. Here’s a look at all of the storm reports, including five confirmed tornadoes so far.

The path of the severe thunderstorms was almost exactly along I-96 from Grand Rapids to Lansing to Detroit.

So far it looks like we had at least five tornadoes. Five have been confirmed as of 4:30 p.m. today, with another one being surveyed and highly likely to be deemed a tornado.

The red dots on the map denote where tornadoes have been confirmed. The first tornado hit Comstock Park on the north side of Grand Rapids. The second confirmed tornado occurred just west of Fowlerville, southeast of Lansing. There also will likely be another tornado confirmed west of the Fowlerville area in Ingham County. The National Weather Service is looking that area over currently late on this Friday afternoon. Then two lines of severe thunderstorms, one moving straight south and one moving straight east, merged and formed two tornadoes in Wayne County. One tornado is confirmed at Canton, MI. Another tornado is confirmed near Edgewater in Wayne County. Now at 4:00 p.m. another tornado has just been confirmed in the very southeast part of Michigan at Newport in Monroe County.


Official storm reports for Lower Michigan on August 24, 2023 (source: Storm Prediction Center)

While tornadoes seem to garner all of the attention during severe thunderstorms, I feel we had a more significant widespread severe downburst wind surrounding the tornadic storms. There were 60 severe wind gusts or wind damage reports. The severe wind gusts were either actually measured with a wind instrument or estimated by a trained weather spotter. The highest measured wind gust reported so far was 71 mph at Edgemont Park in Clinton County, north of Lansing. The second highest measured wind gust was 70 mph at Charlotte in Eaton County, just southwest of Lansing. Detroit had an estimated peak gust at 70 mph.

I watched the wind velocity mode of the doppler radars and saw possible 90 mph gusts in the open country. Here is the freeze frame of the wind velocity off the doppler radar last evening. While the radar shows 100 mph winds, remember that those winds are around 10,000 feet up with that distance from the Grand Rapids radar. 100 mph winds at 10,000 feet can bring gusts to the ground of 90 mph.


Wind velocity mode of the doppler radar shows the widespread strong winds in orange and brown.


Severe storm reports over southwest Lower Michigan on Thursday, August 24, 2023


Severe storm reports over south-central and southeast Lower Michigan on Thursday, August 24, 2023

There was only one hail report. One inch hail was reported at Grant in Newaygo County.

One of the unique things about this severe weather outbreak is the path took the storms right along the axis of highest population from west Michigan to southeast Michigan.

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