Michigan’s Tornado Alley? Sunday Storms

Michigan’s Tornado Alley? Sunday Storms

Michigan’s Tornado Alley?

As we head into the Memorial weekend and the start of the warmer months we could see more chances of severer Thunderstorms along with tornadoes.
If you were to draw a line along M-46 across the state, the areas south of that line would be Michigan’s Tornado Alley. According to the National Weather Service. according to the National Weather Service. Nearly 1,000 tornadoes touched down in the state from 1950-2012, making the state 20th in the nation for most recorded tornadoes over that period. While most of the storms have occurred south of M-46 it should be noted that it appears over that time ever county in the state has reported tornadoes here is a chart with the number in each county from 1950 to 2012 of course there are now more than that.
While most Michigan tornadoes are on the weaker side with mostly trees down and some structural damage, but that has not always been the case. Here is a list of the top deadliest of the Michigan storms
1. June 8th 1953 Flint area 8:30 PM 116 dead 844 injured
2. May 25th 1896 9PM 47 dead 100 injured in Oakland county
3. April 11th 1965 7 PM 44 dead 612 injured The death toll: Branch County (19), Hillsdale County (11), Lenawee County (14)
4. April 3rd 1956 6:30 PH 18 dead 340 injured Hudsonville, Standale and Grand Rapids.
5. May 8th 1964 5PM 11 dead 224 injured. Anchor Bay area, north of Mt. Clemens.
6. April 11th 1965 6:50PM. 5 dead 142 injured Thirty two homes were destroyed and 192 damaged in the Comstock Park and Alpine area.
7. May 13th 1980 3pm 5 dead 40 injured in the center of Kalamazoo
8. June 5th 1905 3:30 PM 5 dead 40 injured Shabbona in Sanilac County.
9. June 8th 6:30 PM 4 dead 18 injured Telegraph road Monroe County.
10. June 8th 7:40 PM 4 dead 13 injured Big Island Lake, Iosco County
By far the worst day for tornadoes here in Michigan was June 8th 1953 lets all hope we do not see a day like that here again!
Here is a list of reported tornadoes here in west Michigan note some of the storms will be on both list.
1912: July 13th
A tornado strikes downtown Grand Rapids at 4:10 AM. Several buildings are damaged and nine people are injured.
1975: May 20th
A tornado injured one person as it destroyed two mobile homes at Byron Center in Kent County.
1923 April 21
: A tornado struck three miles west of Scottville in Mason County. It destroyed an unoccupied home and carried pieces of it over a mile.
1967: A tornado outbreak hits from Missouri to Michigan, killing 58 people. The worst of the damage was in northern Illinois, where dozens of people were killed in Belvidere and Oak Lawn. At least seven tornadoes hit Michigan, injuring more than 50 people and destroying dozens of homes. A tornado moved across the southern outskirts of Grand Rapids, doing heavy damage. Thirty-two people were injured and a total of 65 buildings were destroyed and another 60 heavily damaged. Another tornado injured eight people and killed 34 sheep as it moved from Westphalia to the south edge of Fowler in Clinton County.
1961: A tornado hit two miles north of Marne. One person was injured and three buildings were heavily damage September 22
1965: September 4
A tornado struck east of Grand Haven, destroying a barn, silo and factory. Debris was carried over two miles.
1985: July 15
A tornado touched down in the northeast section of Lansing and damaged 18 buildings as it moved to three miles north of Webberville in Ingham County
1965: April 11
The second worst tornado outbrak in United States history struck from Iowa to Ohio, killing 256 people. In Michigan, the worst damage is near the Indiana state line as two violent tornadoes moved on parallel tracks about a half hour apart, killing 44 people and injuring hundreds. A tornado struck northwest of Grand Rapids, killing five people in Comstock Park. One person was killed by a tornado that moved from near Dewitt in Clinton County to Bennington in Shiawassee County.
2001: Severe thunderstorms produced large hail, flash flooding, and two weak tornadoes. The tornadoes briefly moved through rural areas near Coopersville in Ottawa County and Cloverville in Muskegon County.
April 3

1956: April 3
Eighteen people are killed and over 300 injured as four powerful tornadoes strike western Lower Michigan. Hudsonville and the northwest suburbs of Grand Rapids are the hardest hit areas with 17 fatalities as homes and businesses were completely swept away by an F5 tornado. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/grr/science/19560403/
1974: The worst tornado outbreak in United States history strikes from Illinois to Alabama, with 148 tornadoes killing over 300 people. In Michigan, a tornado kills two people as it tracks across Hillsdale and Jackson Counties.
On average in the Grand Rapids area there is about one tornado per year. Since 1950 there have been over 80 in the area.


Memorial day extremes



Finding the weather history for Memorial day until 1971 is easy as the date was observed on May 30th but from 1971 on that change as the date was changed to the last Monday in May and that can range from May 25th all the way to the 31st.  Any way here are some weather extremes for the Holladay at Grand Rapids.

The warmest Memorial day was in 1919 with a high of 92° it was a hot 91° in 1978 and 2006 (both years on May 29th) and that 91 was also on May 28th 2012. The coldest low was 34° on May 30th 1965 with 35° coming in on May 27th 1974. The worst Memorial day weather wise was on May 28th 1984 when Grand Rapids had a high of 57° and a low of 41° with 1.82” of rain. Not a good beach day. Last year the high was 83 and the low was 59.


I was going to take a break today until I saw the thunderstorm outlooks for Sunday – If you are going to be using the grill outside don’t be waving your burger flipper in the air as there are chances of lightning in the southern part of Michigan in the afternoon.  I will have a full report tomorrow morning…

An area of low pressure will move from Central Illinois tonight through southern portions of the Lower Peninsula on Sunday. Today and Tonight will be fairly dry with increasing chances for precipitation on Sunday. Showers and thunderstorms will accompany the passage of the low on Sunday.

Some of the storms could be on the strong side on Sunday. Rain showers remain in the forecast for Memorial Day as an upper low moves toward the region. Not a wash out of a Holiday weekend, but we will see some rain. The driest day will likely be today with the wettest occurring on Sunday. Highs will be near normal for this time of year.

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Forecast Discussion

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Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids


Main focus in the forecast was on chances for precipitation, beginning late tonight and persisting into Monday. Shortwave ridging should keep us dry for the most part today after some patches of light rain exit Southern Lower Michigan this morning.

Much of tonight will be dry as well with a low slowly moving our direction from the Mid Mississippi Valley. Some light rain showers are forecast by some of the short range models to be pushing into Western Lower Michigan around 12z on Sunday.

All of the models move a low through southern portions of the state on Sunday. Sunday looks to be our best chance for rain with multiple upper shortwave`s affecting our area. Both showers and thunderstorms look likely with convection allowing models like the 3kmNAM showing MUCAPE values of 1000-2000 J/KG. Simulated reflectivity shows rounds of showers/storms. 0-6km bulk shear values via the NAM12 are forecast to be in the 40-50kt range so organized storms with the threat of some severe weather exists.

Sunday night and Monday an upstream upper low gradually works our direction with some diurnal showers anticipated. So, showers will be more prevalent on Monday with Sunday night forecast to be fairly dry. A cooling trend will be noted through the Holiday weekend, with the warmest day being today. Highs will reach the mid to upper 70s today, cooling to around 70 on Memorial Day. .


Seasonably cool and unsettled wx will continue Monday night through midweek with scattered rain showers through Wednesday with the upper trough axis in place over the Great Lakes region. Showers will be enhanced from time to time by several shortwaves that will rotate around the base of the trough axis.

These diurnal showers will be most prevalent during the afternoon and evening hours. Fair wx will finally return late in the week as the upper trough axis moves east of our region and a sfc high pressure ridge builds in. Temps by Thursday and Friday will return to near normal for this time of year with high temps in the lower to perhaps middle 70`s and mins mainly in the 40`s to lower 50`s.

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Sandy (Hudsonville)

Great post SlimJim! Beautiful morning out there. Hope everyone gets out there & enjoys the day!

Yard sale day! For those of you from the old days of tube amps and stereos check out these I picked up at a price I am to embarrassed to say. Very cheap compared to their worth as collector pieces. Also picked up an antique Cast Iron Pitcher Pump and… Read more »
ROCKY (Rockford)
Andy W

Oh yeah!! A cooler spring & summer, then another warmer than normal winter with less than 60 inches of snow would be FANTASTIC!!

Jack Edwards

The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man – YouTube
▶ 4:50

Sandy (Hudsonville)

RIP… He was one of the best. Loved his music.

Jack Edwards
DDDDDDDDDDDd…… The Space Environment Center’s Neural Net Program estimates that . . . in 7 minutes, the Geomagnetic Activity level (Kp number) will be 7.33 — at STORM LEVEL! in 22 minutes, the Geomagnetic Activity level (Kp number) will be 7.33 — at STORM LEVEL! in 37 minutes, the Geomagnetic… Read more »