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Luke Langmeyer will have to find a different way to celebrate Christmas this year, after the pine tree in the front yard of his Gibraltar home was uprooted in violent storms Tuesday night that may have produced tornadoes.

The 30-year-old had planned to decorate the "big Christmas tree” had it survived the storm. Instead, the pine tree and a maple tree were both uprooted, along with a good portion of his yard.

National Weather Service officials are investigating Wednesday whether tornadoes are the cause of damaged buildings and downed trees in two southeast Michigan counties.

Surveyors are scheduled to visit sites in Frenchtown and Berlin townships in Monroe County, as well as Gibraltar in Wayne County after violent storms rolled through Metro Detroit Tuesday night, officials said. 

The agency plans to issue a statement about officials' findings sometime Wednesday, they said.

Langmeyer was at work Tuesday night when his wife called.

“The trees came down,” she said. 

They fell on his Chevy Traverse, parked out front, breaking out the front windshield and two sunroofs. He was able to move it to the driveway, but the car is probably a total loss, he said. 

“We’ll see how it goes,” Langmeyer said, his spirits buoyed by the neighborly spirit he found in the storm’s wake, with neighbors stopping by to check on the family, and even offering generators for their use. 

“It’s a great neighborhood,” he said. “People are about each other.”

Across the street, Brice Thomsen of Southgate, got more than he bargained for while visiting best friend Dan Dreher.

Trees landed on three full-size trucks and one SUV in addition to a plethora of other trees that were uprooted in the yard.

“I seen it all,” Thomsen, 34, said. “I was standing at the back door and felt the winds pick up to 200 miles per hour, it felt like.”

Pointing in the direction of the uprooted trees, he continued: “It just took everything that way. All the rain and softness and warmness — the ground was so soft, it just pulled the trees out.”

“We have no vehicles,” added Dreher, 37, who was working at the time the storm hit. “It’ll be awhile on that, because the insurance company said it can’t even remove the vehicles until the trees are cleared.”

Dreher smoked cigarettes on his porch as his home ran on a generator. A morning that should’ve been spent getting the kids around and preparing for work was instead spent picking up the pieces, or calling a contractor who could. Just before 10 a.m., a truck from Father & Sons Tree Service pulled up to assess the damage. 

Sounded like a jet plane

The calm before the storm is not just a cliched phrase to Rodney Cook, 47, and girlfriend Brandy Shaffer, 45. It is instead one of the enduring memories from the “less than a minute, maybe just 30 seconds” of storm that will affect their living arrangement for months to come. 

The couple lives together in a condo off West Jefferson in Gibraltar.

It was just before 9 p.m. Tuesday when Shaffer lit two candles. She took a call with her son, who lives in Grosse Ile, and told him not to go anywhere.

“It got calm for a second,” Shaffer said.

“There was no wind, nothing," Cook added. "Then, out of the blue ... "

“It sounded like a jet plane,” Shaffer said, finishing her boyfriend's thought. “I could see the wind coming toward us.” 

The couple then took cover in the bathroom.

The next morning, with half the building’s roof torn off, the couple swears it lived through a tornado, not mere high winds.

“I do think it was a tornado,” Shaffer said, citing the water that sucked back into the toilet and the loud boom. 

“It had to be,” Cook said. 

They spent the rest of the night at Shaffer’s parents house, and planned to load the condo into a U-Haul as they prepare for their next home. Cook said he believes it will be “months” before they can call their condo home again.

Storms roll through

At 8:18 p.m. Tuesday, the weather service spotted a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado near Maybee, moving northeast at 25 mph.

Following a tornado warning for northeastern Monroe and south-central Wayne that expired at 9:30 p.m., Gibraltar police reported multiple power lines down and trees uprooted.

Late Tuesday, DTE Energy's website showed more than 2,500 outages near Gibraltar and at least 100 in Monroe County. Early Wednesday, the numbers had subsided but the map showed pockets of up to 1,500 outages in and around Gibraltar and another pocket of up to 1,500 outages in the Riverview area. 

On Wednesday, the weather is much calmer.

The forecast Wednesday calls for cooler and less humid conditions, according to meteorologists with the weather service. The high Wednesday should reach near 69 degrees and the low will fall to about 49 degrees.

Trent Frey, a weather service meteorologist said the cold front is responsible for the drop in temperature and humidity. 

"Behind all of the storms last night was a cold front that came through earlier this morning," he said. "So a cooler, drier air mass is behind it."

Thursday's weather is expected to be dry and seasonable, it also predicted. The high should reach near 66 degrees and the low will drop to about 53 degrees.

September's average monthly high temperature is 74 degrees and the low is 54 degrees, according to the weather service. 

Extended forecast

Thursday: Mostly sunny with a high near 66 degrees and a low of about 53 degrees.

Friday: Partly sunny with a high near 67 degrees and a low of about 47 degrees.

Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high near 59 degrees and a low of about 46 degrees.

Sunday: Partly sunny with a high near 60 degrees and a low of about 51.

Monday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 70 degrees and a low of about 60 degrees. A chance of showers at night.

Tuesday: Mostly cloudy with a high near 74 degrees. There's a a chance of showers.

Source: National Weather Service

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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