Several tornadoes reported in mid-Michigan as severe storms hit much of state

Alex Harring
The Detroit News

Multiple tornadoes reportedly touched down in mid-Michigan Saturday and warnings for several other counties went into effect ahead of a night that threatened with more rain to already overwhelmed streets and roadways in Metro Detroit.

Charlotte, almost 100 miles west of Detroit, had spotters report a tornado touchdown to the National Weather Service around 5:45 p.m. Saturday.  

Eaton Rapids Fire Department and multiple residents reported a tornado between Olivet and Charlotte and Eaton Rapids Township, Eaton County Emergency Manager Ryan Wilkinson said Saturday.

A tornado was reported in the Bellevue area of Eaton County Saturday evening, but few damage reports have been submitted to emergency dispatch so far, Wilkinson said. Most issues reported involved water damage to buildings and roadways.

“I’m quite shocked,” Wilkinson said of the lack of damage. “You’re expecting when it's all said and done there’s going to be issues. But there aren't.”

Residents in the surrounding areas were told to take cover as the storm moves through.

The National Weather Service did not have official confirmation reports of the tornadoes, the winds or the damage and said more information would be available Sunday. 

Storms continued to track northeast the rest of the evening, according to NWS.

Michigan's Thumb and some surrounding areas — including Bad Axe, Port Huron, Flint and Saginaw — were under a tornado watch, which is the precursor for a warning, until 10 p.m. Saturday.

The tornado watch stretched into the outskirts of metro Detroit Saturday night: Howell, Brighton and Whitmore Lake were under a watch until 8:30 p.m., and Flint, Burton and Grand Blank until 7:45 p.m.

The tornado watch also extended into central and western Michigan in cities such as Grand Rapids, Alma, Lansing and Mount Pleasant.

National Weather Service meteorologist Trent Frey said residents of areas under the tornado watch should continue to monitor local news or weather radio and be prepared to take shelter if a tornado warning is issued.

In a warning, Frey said residents should take shelter at the lowest level and most interior room possible.

Metro Detroit's lower portion, including the city, and some western areas such as Ann Arbor remained under a flood watch Saturday afternoon.

Overnight storm movement will likely lead to rainfall, but it is more likely that rain will hit outside of the Metro Detroit area than within it. 

"There is concern just because of how much rain fell yesterday," Frey said. "Pretty much any amount that falls over the city now could cause some issues tonight."

Frey said the highest axis for rainfall is expected to be in the northern and western portions of the state.

The weather service is expecting on and off showers and thunderstorms through Sunday and into the early week, but the potential for heavier rain is expected to "taper off" after Sunday, Frey said.

Following Sunday's heavy rain and thunder forecast, the NWS anticipates showers in Metro Detroit through early next week.