Michigan faced a night of devastation as a series of severe storms swept through the region, resulting in the tragic loss of at least five lives and causing extensive destruction. These storms, which commenced late on Thursday and persisted throughout the night, brought with them intense rainfall, forceful winds, and even a confirmed tornado.
During the turbulent weather, a heart-wrenching car collision claimed the lives of a woman and two children. This fact was confirmed by Sgt. Eric Brunner from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. Meanwhile, in Ingham County, two more fatalities were reported. An 84-year-old woman tragically passed away when a tree fell onto her residence in Lansing. This distressing incident was confirmed by Lansing Police Assistant Chief Robert Backus.
The havoc wasn’t confined to the roads; a pileup involving over 25 vehicles took place on Interstate 96 near Williamston. Regrettably, one person lost their life in this unfortunate event, while multiple others sustained injuries. The storm’s intensity caused numerous vehicles to overturn, leading to the entrapment of certain drivers, according to Michigan State Police Lt. Rene Gonzalez.
Around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, a substantial and dangerous tornado was confirmed near Williamston. This prompted both the National Weather Service offices in Detroit and Grand Rapids to release warnings. As the storms moved from southern Michigan into Ohio during the night, the region faced the risk of potent wind gusts of up to 85 mph, hail as large as 1.5 inches in diameter, and the potential occurrence of tornadoes.
The rural area of Ingham County bore the brunt of the impact, with farmlands suffering damage to homes and barns. Fortunately, individuals within houses and buildings remained unharmed, including those in an assisted living center where the roof collapsed, yet all occupants were accounted for, as per Rob Dale from the county’s emergency management office.
In Kent County, a tragic collision unfolded when two vehicles crashed while traveling in opposite directions. The collision occurred due to one vehicle hydroplaning, leading to the loss of life of a woman and two children. The driver of the other vehicle and the hydroplaning vehicle’s driver sustained injuries.
The aftermath of these storms left more than 460,000 residents without power in Michigan, with nearly 200,000 also facing outages in Ohio, as reported by PowerOutage.us. Detroit experienced a powerful gust of 70 mph at the height of the storm.
These storms came after a previous round of heavy rainfall impacted southern Michigan and northern Ohio, resulting in significant precipitation of 7 to 8 inches in certain regions. This led to disruptions in flight operations at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and road closures due to flooding. Although around 18% of flights originating from the airport were canceled, the roadways were eventually reopened later in the day.