Rotating storm produces waterspout in West Michigan

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WEST MICHIGAN — A strong to severe thunderstorm moving across the southern base of Lake Michigan late Tuesday evening produced a waterspout near Bridgeman in Berrien County.
Recall that a waterspout is simply a tornado over water and are generally weaker than their counterparts over land.

National Weather Service meteorologists believe this is the same cell that tracked almost along the I-94 corridor and came up through Van Buren County…triggering a severe thunderstorm warning in the eastern portion of the county. It continued to track in to and through Kalamazoo County triggering another severe thunderstorm warning, and finally tracked in to and through most of Calhoun County triggering a final severe thunderstorm warning.

The entire time (or at least most of the time) this cell exhibited rotation on radar. By the time it tracked in to eastern Kalamazoo County, the concern was growing over the tightening of the rotation and the possibility of a quick spin-up of a weak EF-0 or EF-1 tornado. Sometimes these spin-ups can occur very quickly, many times between radar scans (about three minutes). We’ve seen in previous cases where tornadoes formed, touched down, and lifted long before radar can get a handle on it.

We never received any confirmed reports of anything on the ground or any real damage other than a tree down in Kalamazoo County, but first light on Wednesday might show otherwise. The primary reason for the severe thunderstorm warning across all three counties was for the possibility of 60 mph wind gusts. When weak rotation is visible the National Weather Service will usually mention “tornado possible” in their warning text. If a larger threat is visible with strong, well defined rotation, a tornado warning is issued. That was not the case with this cell.

Look for more rain chances from time to time the next few days, but no soaking rains are likely. Thanks to Patrick Hooker for the image of the Bridgeman waterspout. He was actually lucky enough to get video of it. This was an image from that video.

Get the complete West Michigan forecast at

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