FOX 17 Dissects the Spring Storms and Ominous-Looking Clouds

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WEST MICHIGAN (April 12, 2014) — Severe thunderstorms tore through our northern counties Saturday afternoon north of Grand Rapids. They brought 60 to 80 mph wind gusts, up to one inch size hail, lightning, and brief heavy rain. These first spring storms are coming on the heels of what was our warmest day in six months across West Michigan. Grand Rapids officially reported 71 degrees in the noon hour Saturday!

Several severe thunderstorm warnings were issued, including northern Kent County, as afternoon storms raced through the area at more than 50 mph. Several thousand people are reportedly without power. Many of our FOX 17 viewers sent in photos of shelf clouds from these storms across the area. Shelf clouds are created from thunderstorm outflow winds and they generally hand across the sky from one end to the other. They are commonly mistaken for funnel clouds and tornadoes since they appear dark, ominous, and scary. If they’re observed rolling on a horizontal axis, there are known as roll clouds.

We’ve also had several reports of roof damage, siding stripped off houses and structures, and general yard things like trampolines/chairs/tables thrown around.

More storms, heavy rain, and flooding exists across the area over the next day or so through Monday morning. Get more at

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