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Storms, tornadoes linked to 5 deaths and widespread power outages

Thousands were without power following a wave of thunderstorms Thursday spawned at least four tornadoes and were linked to five deaths in Michigan. (Bridge photo by Paula Gardner)
  • Heavy storms swept across Michigan Thursday, causing death and damage
  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued emergency declaration to help Wayne and Monroe counties
  • Four confirmed tornadoes hit state; more than 400,000 customers statewide remain without power

Heavy storms and at least four confirmed tornadoes are linked to five deaths as they uprooted trees, flooded roads and triggered power outages across Michigan on Thursday. On Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered state assistance to Wayne and Monroe counties.


Whitmer issued an emergency declaration and agreed with requests from the two counties to get state help.

Storms pummeled much of the state Thursday, with tornadoes reported in Kent, Ingham, Livingston and Wayne counties. More than 250,000 customers of DTE Energy remained without power Friday afternoon, along with more than 167,000 customers of Consumers Energy.

Authorities in Kent County are investigating the storm’s role in three deaths; the victims were in a head-on crash during heavy rain from the storm. Two deaths were reported in Ingham County, one in Lansing and another involving a motorist on I-96.

Winds topped 55 mph and as much as 3.5 inches of rain was recorded at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Wayne County.

Brian Cromwell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake, said there was a confirmed tornado in Livingston County, with winds of 90 mph, another in Canton with winds of 65 to 85 mph, and another in Belleville, with winds of 90 mph.

The agency is still investigating reports of tornadoes in Monroe County, he said. An EF1 tornado packing winds up to 110 mph was confirmed north of Grand Rapids.

Whitmer is making state resources available to authorities in Wayne and Monroe counties. The declaration provides that the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) will coordinate state efforts.  

“Communities across Michigan were hit hard by torrential downpours and damaging winds,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This emergency declaration will ensure state resources are available as quickly as possible to help Michiganders in need.”

Whitmer made a similar declaration in April for six counties in the Upper Peninsula after widespread flooding caused by melting snow hit the region. The flooding overwhelmed sewer and stormwater systems, washed out roads and caused earthen dams to fail.

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