Winds damage Canton Township buildings

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

High winds that swept through in a thunderstorm Wednesday damaged vehicles, two commercial buildings and an industrial site in Canton Township, authorities said. Weather service experts will be dispatched Thursday to determine if a tornado touched down, police said.

The storm struck the area near Lilley and Joy roads about 6:48 p.m. No injuries were immediately reported.

Lilley was closed until further notice. “Canton Police is asking everyone to stay away from the area,” police said in a statement. “They will be patrolling the area as board-up companies can come in and secure the buildings. “

A wind advisory was in effect until 10 a.m. Thursday for much of southeast Michigan. The weather service said forecasts called for a strong south wind with gusts to 45 mph followed by a cold front shifting winds to the west after 3 a.m.

“Southwest winds of 35 mph with gusts 45 to 50 mph will be common along and behind the front,” the advisory read.

Sporadic power outages are possible, and small or lightweight objects such as Christmas decorations could be damaged if not secured. Driving also will be difficult.

The weather service also issued a gale warning through Thursday morning for Lake Michigan and Lake Huron as well as parts of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie from the Detroit River to North Cape, Michigan. Closer to Metro Detroit, mariners can expect sustained winds up to 25 knots from the south with gusts up to 39 knots. The largest expected significant waves will be 4 feet with a potential maximum wave height of 5 feet, according to the notice.

There were no watches or warnings when the storm passed Wednesday, Canton Township police said. The National Weather Service noted in a hazardous weather outlook posted on its website that wind gusts of up to 60 mph were possible as storms rolled through southeast Michigan.

The weather service was expected to assess the damage Thursday, meteorologist Bryan Tilley said. “It was high intensity and it was localized. We just need to be able to evaluate the debris pattern to determine if it was a tornado or straight-line wind. That could only be done during the day so we can see the broader picture.”

The storm in Canton Township was associated “with an intense line of rain showers that moved through during the early evening,” he said. It wasn’t immediately clear how high the winds were, but observation sites in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti reported gusts under 40 mph, Tilley said. The weather service didn’t receive any reports of funnel clouds.

Elsewhere Wednesday, in Deerfield in Lenawee County, a barn was destroyed with debris scattered up to 50 yards away, the weather service said. And in Blissfield, multiple roofs were reported blown off in a mobile home park along U.S. 223, the weather service said.

Nationally, a storm system forecasters called “particularly dangerous” killed at least six people across the country Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.