United States

Severe Storms Ravage Michigan, Threatening Millions Across Eastern US

Severe storms, including powerful tornadoes, tore through southwestern Michigan, causing widespread destruction and injuries.

Emergency vehicles respond after a tornado damaged a FedEx facility in Portage, Mich. Photo: AP

Powerful tornadoes and storms wreaked havoc across southwestern Michigan on Tuesday evening, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. The onslaught of severe weather destroyed homes and businesses, injured numerous residents, and plunged thousands into darkness as power lines were torn down.

In Pavilion Township, located in Kalamazoo County, at least a dozen individuals were injured at a mobile home park due to a tornado, as confirmed by a county official. In total, 15 to 20 people sustained minor injuries in the county, with several transported to hospitals for treatment, according to Andrew Alspach, the county’s emergency management spokesperson.

The neighbouring city of Portage bore the brunt of the storms, with a FedEx facility sustaining significant roof and structural damage. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported, although approximately 50 people were briefly trapped inside due to downed wires. Efforts to clear the area were underway, with authorities striving to ensure the safety of all affected.

Portage city officials issued a plea to residents, urging them to stay home and avoid venturing onto the hazardous roads, which had become gridlocked with traffic, impeding the efforts of first responders.

Meanwhile, in the Village of Centreville, located in St. Joseph County, multiple buildings, both residential and commercial, were decimated by another possible tornado. St. Joseph County Undersheriff Jason Bingaman described scenes of devastation, with roofs torn off and homes flattened.

Branch County, situated approximately 60 miles south of Kalamazoo, also faced significant damage, with at least seven homes destroyed according to Emergency Management Director Tim Miner. The city of Union City was placed under a rare tornado emergency as a massive and destructive tornado swept through the area.

The severe weather wasn't limited to Michigan alone; reports of tornadoes and hail the size of softballs emerged from various parts of the state. More than 34,000 homes and businesses were left without power in Michigan, while over 16,000 residents experienced power outages in Ohio.

In response to the crisis, Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for several affected counties, vowing to coordinate resources and support for those impacted.

As Michigan begins its recovery, millions across the Eastern United States brace themselves for further storms on Wednesday. The Storm Prediction Center warns of a significant severe storm threat, encompassing areas from Texas to Maine, with the potential for strong tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds.

The relentless onslaught of severe weather across the United States underscores the volatile nature of spring, traditionally known for its tumultuous storms and tornadoes. With a streak of 13 consecutive days of tornado reports and the peak tornado season in full swing, communities nationwide remain on high alert, prepared to weather the storm and rebuild in its aftermath.