NWS confirms EF-1 tornado hit Kent, Ionia counties

Drone footage of storm damage near the Alto area on April 11, 2017. (Charles Leonard/ReportIt)


BOWNE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The National Weather Service says an EF-1 tornado was on the ground in southeast Kent County and southwest Ionia County for about five minutes Monday.

The tornado touched down at 8:36 p.m. near 100th Street just east of Alden Nash Avenue in Kent County’s Bowne Township, according to a preliminary report the NWS released Tuesday afternoon. It covered about 5.25 miles before lifting off at 8:41 p.m. near Bell Road north of Keim Road in Ionia County’s Campbell Township. It cut a path up to 220 yards wide and had an estimated peak wind of 90 mph, the NWS said.

Freeport, tornado
The path of an EF-1 tornado in southeast Kent and southwest Ionia counties on April 10, 2017.

Diane Suppes told 24 Hour News 8 that she and her fiancé were watching television at their home Monday night when the severe weather moved through the Alto area.

“We heard the wind pick up, which we expected because they were calling for that, but then all of a sudden it just wham,” Suppes described. “It was the most horrible noise I’ve ever heard in my life.”

The couple lives part of the year in a home near Tyler Creek Campground and Golf Course.

Suppes recalled her whole house shaking and creaking, but she said the frightening situation only lasted about five minutes.

Diane Suppes told 24 Hour News 8 that she and her fiancé were watching television at their home when the severe weather moved through the Alto area.

“We heard the wind pick up, which we expected because they were calling for that, but then all of a sudden it just wham,” she described. “It was the most horrible noise I’ve ever heard in my life.”

The couple lives part of the year in a home near Tyler Creek Campground and Golf Course.

Suppes recalled her whole house shaking and creaking, but she said the frightening situation only lasted about five minutes.

The sound of chainsaws rang out on 92nd Street Tuesday morning as crews worked to clear trees from an entryway to the campground.

Samuel Pyle, the general manager, said he first saw the debris and damage on the morning news.

“This is devastating. We lost our covered bridge. We lost our sign,” Pyle said.

The covered bridge, as it is known locally, was a historic loss. It was built in 1955. Pyle said that it’s unclear if they will rebuild the bridge.

The back nine at the golf course suffered the most extensive damage. Pyle let 24 Hour News 8 take one of the golf carts out on the course to survey the damage. He says it could take a month to clean up the mess.

“Got a whole lot of work ahead of me,” Pyle said.

“We had the straight-line winds that came through last month and we had a lot of work to do there. This is 10 times worse, so it’s going to be a lot of work,” he added.

Fortunately, cleaning up debris is biggest concern for those living in the area. There are no reported injuries and no area homes were damaged in the area where the twister hit. Even the campground near the golf course remained untouched.

Kris and Roger Blough, who live across the street from the golf course, are among those counting their blessings. Their property suffered major damage — their barn roof was partially torn off — but their house and garage avoided damage. They say there has been no shortage of offers to help from friends and neighborhoods.

“You just take it one day at a time and you should be glad with what you’ve got,” Roger Blough said Tuesday. “We’re still here, our house is still here.”

The front nine of the golf course will remain open at Tyler Creek. Some people even golfed a round Tuesday morning.

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