Friday afternoon. On May 20, Gaylord Michigan saw a tornado touch down in Gaylord during a thunderstorm killing 2 people and injuring 44 with a path of destruction. Gaylord has no tornado sirens, although residents receive alerts through their cell phones. In a situation like this, knowing the signs of impending severe weather and what to do could save your life.
Mid-Michigan Now Chief Meteorologist Ahmad Bajjey told us that Michigan tornadoes most often occur from April through July. Tornadoes can strike with little warning, and while meteorologists are now better able to predict the signs of a tornado, sometimes that’s not enough. Knowing what to look for can add even a few extra minutes, giving anyone in danger the chance to seek safety.
How strong was the Gaylord tornado?
The tornado that ripped through the town of Gaylord was an F3 with peak winds reaching 150 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. The tornado traveled 16.6 miles and stayed on the ground for 20 minutes with a maximum width reaching 200 meters.
According to Mlive, the last F3 Michigan experienced was on March 15, 2012. The town of Dexter suffered $12 million worth of damage with a tornado with winds of 145 mph that crossed just over 7 miles from town. It was the first time Michigan had seen such a force of a storm since 1982.
How do you know that a tornado is possible?
Since storms can go from light to severe in seconds, knowing what to look for is essential.
- A dark, often greenish sky.
- Shelf clouds
- Cloudy walls or approaching debris cloud.
- Large hail often in the absence of rain.
- Before a tornado hits, the wind can drop and the air can become very calm.
- A loud roar similar to a freight train can be heard.
- A cloud of debris approaching, although a funnel is not visible.
Taking the time to prepare for a weather emergency can also be a big plus when it comes to what happens after the storm. Bajjey strongly advises to always have items prepared when you need to take cover.
“First and most important is to have a first aid kit. Also a flashlight and extra batteries and a way to charge your phone so you can stay connected. It’s not a bad idea to also invest in a weather radio.”
Bajjey says a “watch” is essentially the “recipe for making it all happen.” It’s like baking a cake. When a “warning” is given, it means the cake is “done” and ready… and it’s time to take cover immediately. Following these weather directions and alerts can save your life in severe weather.