Tornadoes in Michigan

March 9, 2023

tornadoes in Michigan

Tornadoes are a severe weather threat to all of Michigan, although we don't see them very often. Those that do occur are often very powerful.

When a tornado does hit, it is an extremely deadly situation. These strong storms can destroy homes and leave families homeless. They can also cause serious health problems and economic harm.

The 1953 F-5/EF-5

The 1953 F-5/EF-5 is a very notable tornado for a variety of reasons. First of all, it was one of the first tornadoes rated F5 by Environment Canada, the meteorological service of Canada.

This rating has a lot of controversial implications. In fact, since 1950, there have been seven F-5 tornadoes in the United States.

During the April 27 Super Outbreak of 2011, two of those were in Alabama and Mississippi.

The other was in El Reno/Piedmont, Oklahoma. This was a particularly severe tornado for the region as it destroyed more than a dozen homes and swept away many more.

The 2002 EF-1

There have been many tornadoes in Michigan and we’ve had some that have caused death, injury and damage. They range from the EF-0, 80 to 90 mph tornadoes that can snap trees in half and leave homes damaged all the way up to EF-4 winds of 166 to 200 mph that can level most buildings and leave just bare foundations left behind.

One of the most damaging was the 2002 EF-1, which touched down in Franklin County, and continued to travel east through Albia. It was only a mile wide but had wind speeds of 80 mph.

The 2010 EF-1

The 2010 EF-1 tornado, a rare storm that touched down in Michigan, was spawned by a supercell thunderstorm. It quickly gathered strength as it swept through the state on Sunday evening, and was responsible for damaging over a hundred homes and leveling a school and public administration building.

The tornado initially touched down in a rural area near the northern end of Saline, and weakened as it moved south into Milan. As it continued moving, it passed over the Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport without damage.

As it moved westward into Macomb County, it was rated an EF4 in the Millbury neighborhood along Case Road. It damaged or destroyed over a dozen homes and wiped out the Lake High School. The high school gymnasium was also destroyed.

The 2012 EF-1

A warm and humid day in lower Michigan allowed an amplified weather pattern to push into the state. This, coupled with an upper-level low pressure system invading the region, set off several tornadoes across the state on Thursday.

One of those tornadoes impacted Dexter and produced an EF-3 with winds estimated at 140 miles per hour. It was the earliest EF-3 to impact the state since the Enhanced Fujita scale was introduced in 2007.

The 2021 EF-1

Tornadoes are the most frequent type of severe weather during the summer months across Michigan. According to tornado climatology, the tornado season is typically from April to July.

A strong storm system brought a few tornadoes to Michigan Saturday night. Two of them touched down in Ionia County and one in Mecosta County.

Another storm system touched down in Hillsdale County and produced an EF-1 tornado. It tracked through the township of Hillsdale, touching down on Cambria Road and crossing into the east side of S. Bunn Road, before lifting.

A survey by the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado, with path length of 1 mile and maximum width of 100 yards. The tornado produced significant damage including several snapped and uprooted trees, a barn that lost its roof and garages.


Tornado Dave is the best place to learn more about severe weather and climate science. He's a veritable tornado of information, and he loves nothing more than educating others about the importance of being prepared for extreme weather events. Make sure to check in with Tornado Dave often, as he's always updating his blog with the latest news and information!
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