Wednesday's Michigan tornado drill canceled due to threat of severe weather

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

The National Weather Service's test of its hazards radio system warning that was scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday has been canceled, officials said.

They said the test is being postponed due to the potential for some severe weather in southern lower Michigan and hazardous winter weather in the Upper Peninsula and northern lower Michigan. 

Officials said the test, which is part of a statewide simulated Tornado Drill, would be conducted either Thursday or next week.

Thunderstorms are possible across lower Michigan on Wednesday, according to the weather agency.

"Strong thunderstorms with large hail are possible in the I-94 area from around 3 p.m. till around 10 p.m. this evening," the NWS for Grand Rapids said. "The thunderstorms will produce locally heavy rainfall and frequent cloud to ground lightning. Storms will be moving northeast around 35 mph."

For northern Michigan, the risks were of a more wintry variety.

"Accumulating snow and sleet will develop this morning in eastern upper Michigan, with freezing rain mixing in this afternoon," according to NWS in Gaylord. "There is small chance for thunderstorms late this afternoon and this evening near Saginaw Bay. Severe storms are not expected. A light wintry mix lingers into tonight in eastern upper Michigan, and will expand back into north central lower Michigan overnight. Light icing is possible."

For southeast Michigan, the thunderstorms bring a possibility of hail through late evening, the NWS says:

"Small hail and damaging winds are possible with these elevated thunderstorms. Close to the MI/OH border, surface-based instability will afford an opportunity for stronger thunderstorms capable of 1 inch diameter hail. Storm motion will be from southwest to northeast at 40-45 mph."

The weather forecast prompted the cancellation of the statewide alert to avoid confusion, the NWS said. "The cancellation of this test is to prevent weather radios from going off unnecessarily today for a test. The weather radio is the only National Weather Service system impacted by the cancellation of this test."

Michigan State Police officials noted that it is local government agencies that decide whether to participate in emergency siren tests.

"Many already do not participate and others may decide to opt out today due to the weather," officials said.

One such local government, Oakland County, has said it canceled the test of its warning siren due to the possibility of severe weather.