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Rare EF-2 tornado hits Grand Blanc, confirming unusual tornado pattern, Michigan

Rare EF-2 tornado hits Grand Blanc, causing major damage to industrial complex, Michigan f

A rare EF-2 tornado touched down in Grand Blanc, Michigan, just after midnight on February 28, 2024, confirmed by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Detroit. With estimated peak winds reaching 185 km/h (115 mph) and spanning a path of 9.1 km (5.7 miles), this event marks only the second February tornado in the region’s history, with the previous one occurring on February 28, 1974, in southwest Wayne County.

  • Since the NWS began tracking tornadoes in Michigan in 1950, there have only been seven instances of February tornadoes in the state — interestingly, they all occurred on February 28. This unusual pattern began in 1974.

The Grand Blanc tornado on February 28, 2024, had an estimated peak wind speed of 185 km/h (115 mph), carving a path of 9.17 km (5.7 miles) and a maximum width of 411 meters (450 yards). Fortunately, there were no fatalities or injuries reported.

The tornado’s journey began 4.83 km (3 miles) west of Grand Blanc at 01:12 EST, causing significant damage, including the destruction of the south pavilion at Creasey Bicentennial Park, uprooting a pine tree, snapping multiple trees, blowing out two garage doors, and partially stripping a roof from one home.

Rare EF-2 tornado hits Grand Blanc, causing major damage to industrial complex, Michigan photo 1 February 28 2024
Tornado damage in Grand Blanc on February 28, 2024. Image credit: Grand Blanc Township
Rare EF-2 tornado hits Grand Blanc, causing major damage to industrial complex, Michigan photo 2 February 28 2024
Tornado damage in Grand Blanc on February 28, 2024. Image credit: Grand Blanc Township
Rare EF-2 tornado hits Grand Blanc, causing major damage to industrial complex, Michigan photo 3 February 28 2024
Tornado damage in Grand Blanc on February 28, 2024. Image credit: Grand Blanc Township

The tornado’s damage peaked at an industrial complex at the intersection of Reid and S Dort Highway, where it caused significant roofing loss and wall damage, along with snapping multiple transmission poles.

It also wreaked havoc in the Indian Hill neighborhood near downtown Grand Blanc, downing large trees, some of which fell onto homes along Old Bridge Rd to Stonybrook Dr.

Further damage included more widespread tree damage and structural damage to homes along Moonstone Dr and Brookview Dr before the tornado weakened and lifted after crossing Perry Rd at 01:22 EST.

Meteorologist Alex Manion said February tornadoes in Michigan are rare, adding that since the National Weather Service began tracking them in Michigan in 1950, there have only been seven instances of February tornadoes in the state — interestingly, they all occurred on February 28.

This unusual pattern began in 1974 with a tornado in Wayne County. A significant event followed in 2017, with 4 tornadoes touching down in the southwest corner of Michigan. The most recent occurrences include the tornado in Genesee County and another in Calhoun County, west of Jackson, both recorded on the same date in 2024.

References:

1 EF-2 Tornado Confirmed In Grand Blanc / NWS Damage Survey – NWS Detroit – February 28, 2024

2 Tornado packing 115 mph winds touched down west of Grand Blanc, on ground for 10 minutes – Detroit Free Press – February 28, 2024

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