KENTWOOD, Mich. – A severe thunderstorm packing winds estimated at more than 80 mph spawned a tornado, injuring several people and causing significant damage to homes in western Michigan, officials said Monday.
A fast-moving thunderstorm intensified in Michigan late Sunday over Kentwood, just south of Grand Rapids, and the most damage was reported between 10:20 and 10:30 p.m., the National Weather Service said. The agency on Monday surveyed the area, confirming a tornado was to blame.
The weather service received reports that a couple of buildings had partially collapsed and that the storm downed numerous trees and power lines. Several recreational vehicles were knocked over at a dealer’s lot. Residents of Leisure Acres condominium complex were among those displaced.
Jan Collins told The Grand Rapids Press that she heard the wind blow and then an enormous boom as a tree toppled onto her family’s garage.
“There was this rumbling sound, and it was raining especially hard, before the wind came out of nowhere,” Collins said. “I think the car will be OK – the tree kind of just rested on top.”
Kent County emergency management coordinator Jack Stewart told WOOD-TV that six people were injured, but that the severity of their injuries was unknown. The weather service said two people were taken to the hospital.
The Associated Press sent a message seeking updated information from Stewart on Monday morning.
Flash flood warnings were canceled Monday for a number of western and central Michigan counties after more storms moved through the state. Flood warnings were in effect until Tuesday morning in Gratiot, Ionia and Montcalm counties, where some roads were washed out, the weather service said.
“The heavy rain is gone. We’re actually turning sunny,” said Brian Meade, a meteorologist in Grand Rapids. “There’s not really a flash flood threat, but you’ve got your lingering flooding and rain runoff.”
The weather service had received reports of flooding in Alma, in Gratiot County, with 6 yo 8 inches of standing water reported in one spot.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Kentwood Community Center for those without power or otherwise displaced from their homes. More than 60 people took refuge at the center, officials said.
CMS Energy Corp.’s Consumers Energy unit said Monday morning that about 20,000 of its customers lost power. About 9,600 of those homes and businesses are in Kent County, including Kentwood. The utility said it could be late Tuesday before power is fully restored.