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Kent County, MI EF-1 Tornado
August 24th 2023

Event Summary

On Thursday, August 24th 2023 a swath of severe thunderstorms moved through central western Michigan, into central and southeastern Michigan, before dying out as they approached Clevland, OH. 

This complex of storms produced widespread damage as a result of several EF-0 to EF-2 tornadoes and straight-line winds in excess of 80mph.

One of these tornadoes, the only one to impact the West Michigan Weather Coverage area, an EF-1 formed just west of Alpine and tracked northeast across M-37 and into Plainfield Township prior to dissipating before impacting Rockford Public Schools Campus. No injuries and no deaths occurred.

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Storm Chasing Operations

Unfortunatley, due to our full-time jobs, West Michigan Weather Storm Chasers we're not able to chase this event and hence we weren't able to assist in the warning process or provide any storm reports, photos or live stream of the event itself but rest assured that we were assisting to the best of our abilities.

Both of our storm chasers quickly drove to the impacted area as soon as we were able to and assisted residents and first responders in recovery efforts.

The following day we were back out in the impacted areas to perform a damage survey to assist in increasing awareness and preventative efforts.

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Conclusion

All in all, this event had a large impact on residents within Kent County. This event will cost thousands of dollars for the residents of the impacted areas. Fortunately, however, no injuries and no deaths occurred as a direct result of these storms here in West Michigan. 

We can use this event as a reminder that tornadoes can and do happen anywhere and sometimes they occur with little to no warning.

Always be #WeatherAware, have multiple ways to receive weather warnings, always have a plan, and share weather forecasts and information with your friends and family when hazardous weather threatens!

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Forecast

This event was difficult to forecast. The state of Michigan and much of the remainder of the Great Lakes region had been in a very unstable to extremely unstable environment for several days with multiple chances for severe weather over that time period. In West Michigan especially there had been a very strong atmospheric capping inversion in place at the 850mb level which had prevented storm initiation the previous couple of days. 

While questions remained on whether or not Thursday's CAP would continue to hold as it had the previous days it quickly became apparent that a different outcome was in store. The initial Day 1 Outlook from the Storm Prediction center had placed portions of central western Michigan in a Slight Risk (Level 2/5) for severe weather including a 2% tornado risk. As the day progressed model guidance began to clearly indicate that the CAP was not going to be able to prevent storms as it had the days prior. Most of the models indicated a threat for explosive storm development in an extremely unstable environment favorable for the development of significant damaging winds and perhaps a couple of tornadoes. The SPC issued an updated outlook complete with an upgrade to an Enhanced Risk for damaging winds up to 75mph and a couple of tornadoes. 

 

This forecast would very soon come to fruition. 

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Damage Survey

West Michigan Weather storm chasers were back in the field as early as 7am on Friday morning along with countless media members, public safety agencies, utility companies, road commission, and the NWS to assist in recovery efforts and complete damage surveys to assess the type and intensity of winds in the affected areas.

The NWS confirmed that a high-end EF-1, with wind speeds only 1mph short of an EF-2 rating, tracked roughly 9 miles through portions of Alpine Township, Plainfield Township, and Rockford.

Click here for a full overview of the survey from West Michigan Weather including graphics, photos, and drone video.

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