Tornadoes Hit Southern Michigan; Rare Tornado Emergency Declared, FedEx Facility Damaged

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A​ second round of tornadoes in as many days left major damage in parts of Michigan and several other states Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

A FedEx facility in Portage, Michigan, sustained heavy damage with as many as 50 people trapped inside Tuesday night after an EF2 tornado struck the town. It was one of several observed tornadoes in the Midwest as a system that produced deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma the night before moved east.

V​ideo posted to social media showed extensive damage to the FedEx building. Everyone inside who was trapped by downed power lines was eventually rescued and no deaths were reported in Portage.

E​lsewhere in Portage, injuries and heavy damage were reported at a mobile home park. P​ortage came under a new tornado warning a little more than an hour after the initial hit, but it’s not clear yet whether or not a second tornado was spawned.

City officials in Portage took to social media to urge drivers off the roads so first responders could get through.

Police in nearby Kalamazoo reported no significant injuries or damage from the tornado.

E​arlier, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued its first-ever tornado emergency in Michigan, for Union City and Sherwood. After the storms passed, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for four counties hit hardest by the tornadoes and strong winds.

“My heart goes out to all those impacted by tonight’s severe weather in southwest Michigan,” the governor said on social media. “State and local emergency teams are on the ground and working together to assist Michiganders.”

There were nine reports of tornadoes in Michigan Tuesday, though the actual confirmed number won’t be known until the NWS surveys areas with damage. In an average month of May, notes digital meteorologist Jonathan Belles, the entire state of Michigan gets three tornadoes.

“Several supercells erupted late this afternoon and multiple churned down tornadoes in southern Michigan,” Belles said. “One of the tornadoes likely swept northeastward from Dowagiac toward Portage and the Kalamazoo airport, causing apparent wall collapses and roof damage at the FedEx facility, along with some local homes and businesses in Portage.”

T​ornadoes Also Reported In Ohio, West Virginia, Arkansas

I​t wasn’t just Michigan – their neighbors to the south also had a long evening of tornado warnings and damaging storms. Some of the worst damage in Ohio was reported to be in the town of Greenville, located about 40 miles northwest of Dayton. There, downed trees were scattered about and some vehicles were crushed, according to videos posted to social media.

G​reenville City Schools will be closed Wednesday as a result of the storms, according to

F​arther north, another tornado was reported near the town of New Bremen.

S​tructures were also damaged in Hancock County, West Virginia, and daylight revealed the full scope of destruction Wednesday morning. Schools in the county are closed Wednesday due to the storms.

A​ damage survey from the NWS determined that the tornado was at least an EF2, but findings were preliminary. It’s the second “strong” tornado (EF2 or higher) confirmed during this week’s tornado outbreak; joining the EF4 tornado that struck Barnsdall, Oklahoma, on Monday.

T​he severe storms persisted in parts of Arkansas into Wednesday morning, and there were initial reports of damage in the towns of Lake Hamilton and Red Oak, located just a few miles apart in the central part of the state.


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