Storms bring damaging winds, possible tornadoes to west Michigan
Grand Rapids — Severe thunderstorms brought heavy rain, high winds and, possibly, tornadoes to parts of Michigan, shearing roofs off buildings and leaving tens of thousands without power.
No injuries were reported in the storms Wednesday.
The National Weather Service said a possible tornado was reported in Grand Rapids, and emergency management officials in surrounding Kent County say several possible brief tornadoes were spotted on radar. The storms pulled roofs from buildings and splintered wood lay scattered on the ground in some areas.
Firefighters evacuated a Grand Rapids apartment building after winds damaged buildings. Damage also was reported in Lowell and Ada.
A National Weather Service team on Thursday surveyed damage at the Grand Rapids apartment building, situated on a hill, and estimated it was affected by winds nearing 100 mph, meteorologist Brian Meade said.
The crew is "still inconclusive on whether there was a tornado or not," Meade said.
Another team worked east of Grand Rapids on Thursday and found evidence of winds gusting 65-85 mph, but not lofted debris typically associated with tornadoes, Meade said. "There’s definitely wind damage. They just haven’t seen evidence there was a tornado."
A team is slated to survey an area near U.S. 131 on Friday and plans to continue reviewing data, Meade said.
DTE Energy said about 70,000 of its customers had power out on Wednesday, with about 16,000 without power Thursday afternoon.
Consumers Energy said more than 57,000 of its customers were affected by the storm, with about 12,000 without power Thursday afternoon.