3 tornadoes rip through lower Michigan, damaging homes and downing trees and power lines

Jakkar Aimery, Marnie Muñoz and Hannah Mackay, The Detroit News on

Published in Weather News

PORTAGE, Mich. — At least three tornadoes touched down in Michigan on Tuesday night, one sweeping through parts of St. Joseph County and two hitting Kalamazoo County, knocking down trees and power lines and scattering debris from buildings and homes, according to the National Weather Service.

The St. Joseph County tornado struck Mendon and Leonidas; the communities of Comstock and Portage were hit in Kalamazoo County. A tornado first touched down in Portage around 6 p.m. near eastbound Centre Street at Shaver Road, first responders reported, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook. The tornado left scattered building debris and power lines down, the Sheriff's Office said.

Social media posts showed buildings in Portage with heavy damage.

Two trained spotters reported another tornado in Portage at 7:18 p.m. and a tornado was reported nearby in Comstock at 7:22 p.m., according to the weather service storm reports. A tornado also was reported in Mendon at 5:50 p.m. and Leonidas at 6 p.m., according to the reports.

Tree damage was reported in Leonidas, and trees 3 feet in diameter were reported down in northeast Portage, the weather service said. More downed large trees and power lines, as well as scattered shingles, were reported in west Portage. There also were reports of large hail, ranging from 1.5 inches to 4 inches in diameter, in Portage, parts of St. Joseph County and Union City, according to the weather service.

Steven Burnett was making dinner when he received alerts that a tornado touched down near his home on Meredith Street. His wife, children, brother and sister-in-law, their children and his mother-in-law dashed to a small bathroom in the basement and prayed.


"It was really calm when it started, then we heard the wind and the whole entire house just shook," Burnett said. "Two whole families were crammed in a bathroom in the basement; we all fit and we all held hands as my daughter and nephew started praying ... It made me feel calmer."

When he took stock after the storm, he found a tree had fallen on his home and vehicles.

Nearby, on East Milham Avenue, trampolines hung in trees and roofing material littered the road and nearby yards as bulldozers and Consumers Energy crews worked alongside the Portage Public Works Department to clear roads and shut off gas.

Spencer White, 24, and his 22-year-old brother watched as the storm raised his neighbor's trampoline and launched it into trees.


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