Governor Rick Snyder has declared April 15th through April 21st as Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state of Michigan.
Looking from a whole state perspective, Michigan experienced an average year for severe weather in 2011. There were four deaths and 31 injuries in the state Michigan from severe weather. All of the deaths and injuries resulted from either lightning or thunderstorm winds. Severe thunderstorms, flooding, and tornadoes were responsible for over $150 million in damages in 2011, down from $360 million in damages in 2010. In Upper Michigan, there were 75 reports of severe weather in 2011 which was close to the long term average.
There were 15 tornadoes that touched down across the state in 2011, which is very close to the yearly average of 16. Surprisingly, four of the tornadoes actually touched down in Upper Michigan. Typically, Upper Michigan averages one tornado per year. The most significant of the tornadoes touched down early in the morning on August 19th in the village of Ontonagon where it snapped trees and damaged several buildings. It was only the third confirmed tornado in Ontonagon County history. Later on that same day, a killer tornado touched down near Wausaukee, WI. It was the first tornado fatality in northern Wisconsin in over 25 years. That tornado dissipated as it crossed into Menominee County, Michigan.
Despite the perception that the Upper Peninsula is immune to significant severe weather, the area is still at risk for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, hail, floods and lightning. During Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan, the National Weather Service is encouraging residents to review severe weather safety procedures especially since they probably have not been put into action in some time. Plan ahead. Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do when severe weather threatens. The best time to prepare for severe weather is before it happens. Additional severe weather awareness week and weather safety information can be found at www.weather.gov/mqt.