NWS confirms first ever December tornado hit Canton Twp.
Canton Township — After a Thursday morning survey of damage, the National Weather Service has declared that the township was hit by a tornado Wednesday evening that packed 90 mph winds.
The tornado — the first December tornado ever recorded in Michigan — damaged several buildings, uprooted trees, moved automobiles and downed power lines. However, there were no reported injuries by the storm.
“The track of the tornado was about 2 miles long and about 100 yards wide,” said Rich Pollman, a meteorologist with the weather service. “We started our surveying at about 8:30 a.m. and discovered a lot of uprooted pine trees.”
At a light industrial area near the Canton-Plymouth-Mettetal airport, investigators found several overhead doors blown out by the high winds, Pollman said, adding, “At least four buildings had sections of their roofs blown away. Once high winds enter a building, they look for a way out.”
In its preliminary report, the weather service said its survey showed that additional damage occurred near the intersection of Joy and Haggerty, where a metal roof was ripped off a gas station.
The tornado dissipated near Haggerty and Newport Drive. According to the weather service, the twister was rated EF1, which is described as a “weak” storm with winds of 86 to 110 mph. Pollman estimated that the twister was on the ground for about two minutes, moving at about 60 mph.
The storm initially struck near Lilly and Joy roads about 6:48 p.m. Afterward, police blockaded several streets and requested the public to stay away from the area. By Thursday morning, all roads were again open to traffic.
“This is the first December tornado in the history of the state of Michigan,” Pollman said.
According to meteorologist Rachel Kulik, Michigan has recorded tornadoes in January and February.
The weather service said forecasts had called for a strong south wind with gusts to 45 mph followed by a cold front shifting winds to the west but predicted no tornadoes.
Wednesday’s storm also caused damage to a barn in Deerfield, in Lenawee County, with debris scattered up to 50 yards away. In Blissfield, southeast of Adrian, multiple roofs were reported to have been blown off in a mobile home park along U.S. 223.
Nationally, a storm system forecasters called “particularly dangerous” killed at least six people across the country Wednesday.
Consumers Energy reported Thursday that more than 82,000 customers in western and northern Michigan were without electricity after the storms toppled trees, utility poles and power lines.
More than 21,000 customers in Kent County lost power. Outages topped 8,000 in Roscommon County and 5,800 in Ottawa County. The utility said full restoration of power isn’t expected before Sunday in some areas.
A Thursday check of the DTE Energy Co. outage map shows scattered outages all across southeastern Michigan due to high winds.
“Initially, we had 22,000 customers affected by the high winds that started Wednesday evening,” DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons said. “As of Thursday morning, we have 11,000 still out. We should have the vast majority back on line some time today.”
Two areas with the most blackouts Thursday are Lyon Township and Genoa Township (near Brighton), each without about 400 homes and businesses without power.
“We had some pretty good wind gusts early Thursday morning,” Kulik said. “A gust of 55 mph was recorded in Saginaw, 38 mph at Detroit Metro Airport at 2:10 a.m., 40 mph in Pontiac at 3:37 a.m. and 48 mph at 3:31 a.m. in Flint.
“The winds were part of a quick moving front that moved through that brought rain, including a couple of heavy down pours. But there were no flooding issues.”
Christmas Day in Metro Detroit is expected to be much like Christmas Eve with dry conditions and temperatures in the upper 40s. The night-time low is expected to be in the upper 30s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Christmas day: Partly sunny and 46.
Friday night: Cloudy and 35.
Boxing Day (Hello Canada!): There is a 70 percent of rain with high of about 47 degrees.
Saturday night: There is a 70 percent chance of rain with a low temperature of about 38.
Sunday: There is a 30 percent chance of showers with a high of about 40.
Sunday night: Cloudy and 25.
Monday: Partly sunny and 32.
Monday night: Cloudy with a chance of rain or snow showers and a low of 26.