Sorry, A Winter Tornado Isn’t Totally Out of the Question in Michigan
We certainly experience our fair share of tornadoes in The Mitten!
In fact, according to Pure Michigan we can typically expect to see an average of 15 tornadoes per year here in the Great Lakes state.
While there were no injuries reported the EF-1 tornado that ripped through Perry, MI earlier this year gave us quite a scare, but fortunately by August 2023 we'd seen fewer than 10 tornadoes touchdown here in Michigan.
Although spring is typically tornado season here in Michigan--with the strongest tornadoes recorded having occurred between the beginning of April and the end of May--that's not to say a winter tornado isn't entirely out of the question!
January 18, 1996 - Kalamazoo County
In the winter of 1996 Michigan was experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures with highs reportedly reaching 58 degrees that day. Warm conditions mixed with a cold front that came across Lake Michigan meant conditions were just right for severe weather.
The storms that day whipped up 70 mph winds, dropped hail measuring 1 inch in diameter, and dropped a significant amount of snow in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
At 5:01 p.m. a brief tornado was reported to have touched down in nearby Richland, which the National Weather Service (NWS) in Grand Rapids later confirmed and gave a rating of F-0.
December 23, 2015 - Wayne County
The first December tornado in Michigan history took place just a few days before Christmas Day 2015. According to the NWS warm air from the plains mixed with cool air from Canada created ideal conditions for rotation.
Albeit brief, the EF-1 tornado touched down for 3 minutes and produced peak winds of up to 90 mph. This December 23 tornado is only one of three winter tornadoes on record in Michigan, the 3rd one having also taken place in Wayne County on February 28, 1974.
Again, while it's not very likely a winter tornado isn't totally out of the question!
See Pictures From the Tornado That Devastated Gaylord, Michigan
Gallery Credit: George McIntyre