GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The National Weather Service has confirmed tornado damage in six West Michigan counties resulting from Saturday’s massive storm, including a brief tornado in the city of Grand Rapids.
The NWS says an EF-0 tornado spun up at 2:50 p.m. Saturday near Perkins Avenue between Leonard and Knapp streets on Grand Rapids’ northeast side. The tornado was on the ground for only about two minutes and three-quarters of a mile and had a maximum width of 50 yards, a preliminary NWS report said. It had peak winds of between 70 and 80 mph and resulted mainly in downed trees, some of which caused property damage.
Earlier Sunday, the NWS said preliminary surveying had found EF-1 tornado damage in Van Buren, Allegan and Ottawa counties and EF-0 damage in Kent County. Further details about the paths of those storms is expected Monday.
Saturday, the NWS said an EF-1 tornado tracked about eight miles through northern Kent and southern Montcalm counties.
EF-0 and EF-1 are the categories for the lowest-strength tornadoes — the type Michigan typically sees. EF-0s are marked by winds between 65 and 85 mph and EF-1s have winds between 86 and 110 mph.
The NWS gave itself high marks for tracking tornadoes that it says were difficult to track and issuing warnings in plenty of time as the storm moved north.
“It was a good day for us. We had tornado warnings out throughout that entire path,” said NWS senior forecaster Bob Dukesherer. “I live in southwest Kent County, in the Wyoming area, and my phone was going off probably 20 to 30 minutes before the wind moved through Wyoming.”
He said a lead time of up to half an hour should have given residents in the storm’s path plenty of time to take shelter. The national average lead time, he says, is 10 minutes.
That could explain why there were no injuries linked to the storm reported anywhere in West Michigan.