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26 Years Since West Michigan Was Impacted By One of The Worst Lines of Thunderstorms In World Weather History!

National Doppler Radar Loop - Upper Midwest/Great Lakes Region - May 30/31 1998 - Courtesy NWS SPC

26 years ago one of the most destructive, deadly, and costly squall lines of thunderstorms in the world would impact lower Michigan. The most significant impacts of this entire event would occur right here in our backyards during the overnight hours of May 30/31 1998.

Damaging thunderstorm wind gusts of up to 130 MPH (that's the same speed as an EF-2 tornado) would ravage western and central lower Michigan killing 4, injuring more than one hundred, and causing more than 170 million dollars in damage.

Tens of thousands of homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed by the intense thunderstorm winds and nearly 1 million people went without power for over a week.

In West Michigan, 5 of these highly wind-resistant towers, designed to withstand continuous wind gusts up to 110 MPH, were knocked down from the Lakeshore to Grand Rapids.

"Area of Lower Michigan affected by the worst damage from the May 30-31, 1998 derecho. Red numbers are the maximum measured wind gusts in mph. Orange numbers are estimated maximum gusts in mph, based on a damage survey by Grand Rapids NWS Forecast Office meteorologists. Thirteen Michigan counties (noted in black lettering and within the light blue border) together were declared a Federal Disaster Area by the Federal Emergency Managers Association. The purple "S" represents where a "seiche" took place on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan."

Text Excerpt Above & Image Taken From The SPC Archives.

Today, these areas have been rebuilt with very little, if any, indicators of the intense, life-threatening damaging winds that moved through these areas. Today we reflect on this event, and remind ourselves that intense, life-threatening severe weather is, in fact, something we have to contend with here in Michigan. We use this event as a reminder to always be #WeatherAware! If something like this were to occur again, it would be far more impactful, far more dangerous, far more costly, and far more life-threatening than it was nearly 30 years ago. Make sure that you have a reliable way to get weather forecast information as we head into peak severe weather season here in West Michigan! Links for all of our social media and our YouTube channel are in the menu at the top of the site! Tune in for live storm chasing, weather forecasts, school closing predictions, and more!


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