Governor Rick Snyder has declared April 7th through April 13th as Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state of Michigan.
Typically 15 tornadoes touch down across the state in a given year with Upper Michigan averaging around one per year. Last year only 6 tornadoes touched down across the state, but one of them did touch down in Upper Michigan. The U.P. tornado touched down during the early evening of June 8th in Marquette County southwest of Big Bay. The tornado was on the ground for nearly 8 miles making it one of the longest track tornadoes in Marquette County history. While it was in a very rural area, wind speeds up to 95 mph snapped trees and did damage at the Eagle Mine.
Other severe thunderstorms on that day produced funnel clouds and golf ball sized hail in downtown Marquette. Severe thunderstorms affected other areas of the U.P. throughout last summer. Thunderstorm winds produced wind damage near Channing, Kiva, Menominee, and at Wells State Park in Menominee County where hundreds of trees were snapped and uprooted. Baseball sized hail also fell near Republic in Marquette County. While there were some close calls, there were no injuries from severe weather across Upper Michigan in 2012.
Despite the perception that the Upper Peninsula is immune to significant severe weather, the area is 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 hen 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.