MUSKEGON COUNTY – After every severe storm in West Michigan where there is confirmed damage, the Grand Rapids National Weather Service conducts a damage survey to determine what type of damage occurred. Was it straight line wind damage, or was it a tornado?
I tagged along with NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jim Maczko to see what we could find. Starting in Muskegon County around Ravenna at the Moss Ridge Golf Club, we found steel parking light poles bent over and sheared off on the ground. Tree limbs and trees uprooted could be seen on the golf course, but there was no structural damage to the clubhouse. The damage seemed to be consistent with 70 mile per hour straight line winds.
A little further north and east on Behler Street we found far more damage to vegetation. Mainly larger, uprooted and snapped trees everywhere. There was some minor damage with siding and shingles ripped off homes, but still consistent with straight line winds between 70 and 80 mile per hour. Many of the residents in this area had no power as downed trees took out power lines.
A few blocks over on Trent Road we found a barn flattened, some minor roof damage to a house, and more large trees uprooted and tossed around.
As we moved in to extreme northeast Muskegon County around Bailey there was extensive damage to one home in particular. Decimated and almost destroyed, part of the roof was missing over one bedroom, broken glass was everywhere, and it was clear high velocity projectiles of all kinds were thrown through out the house. In fact, some high-speed item blasted through the house, hit the solid glass door on the oven, and shattered into pieces. Luckily, no one was home at the time.
A little further north just over the southern Newaygo County border around Grant, we found more damage. Mainly rural, trees uprooted, a greenhouse destroyed, and debris laying in fields. But another home had a large tree shoved through the upstairs wood siding, while the front lawn was littered with downed trees and limbs. Homeowner John Niederer says he saw rotation and it was over in seconds.
In both Bailey and Grant, NWS Meteorologist Jim Maczko believes there was rotation and a weak EF0 tornado touched down here and there with winds up to 80 mile per hour. The preliminary thought is that it probably wasn’t on the ground the entire time, but may have had a touchdown or two here and there. There was a tornado warning out for the area at the time. One of only two such warnings issued in our area for the entire event.