Winter’s last gasps can bring severe weather

Despite winter’s grip lasting well into April this year, the warmth of spring and summer will eventually be making a return to Upper Michigan. With the arrival of the new seasons, come the threats from spring and summertime severe weather. As another severe weather season approaches, Gov. Rick Snyder has declared April 8-14 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan.

While the overall number of severe weather events were below average last year, severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, and tornadoes were still responsible for five deaths and over $220 million in damages across the state of Michigan. The biggest severe weather event for the U.P. occurred during the early morning hours of April 10. A severe thunderstorm developed east of Iron River and raced northeastward towards Marquette producing large hail up to golf-ball size and wind gusts approaching 90 mph. Thousands of trees were blown down from Republic through Ishpeming and Negaunee. In addition, several structures sustained roof damage and many powerlines were blown down. Unlike 2016 where there was a record six tornadoes confirmed across the U.P., there were zero tornadoes confirmed across the U.P. in 2017. Despite some very close calls, there were fortunately no serious severe weather-related injuries across the U.P. last year.

In the weeks following Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Marquette will be visiting several counties across Upper Michigan providing storm spotter training. The presentations are a great way for residents to be significantly involved in the weather warning process by relaying important, potentially lifesaving, weather information to the National Weather Service during times of active weather. A schedule of presentations can be found at weather.gov/mqt. The presentations are free and open to all.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan, the National Weather Service is encouraging residents across the state to review severe weather safety procedures. 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. Being weather-ready is a collective effort. It takes the whole community to effectively prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate against damages caused by severe weather. Additional severe weather awareness week and weather safety information can be found at weather.gov/mqt.

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