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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

Statewide Tornado Drill Set for Today, as Severe Weather Season Nears

Michigan’s annual statewide tornado drill will take place this afternoon.

Tornadoes are usually considered a downstate problem, but Matt Zika from the National Weather Service office in Marquette says the U.P. is not immune…

We average one per year, but, when they do happen, they’re typically very low on the intensity scale.

Zika says the severe tornado that ravaged Gaylord last summer is not necessarily a sign of changing weather patterns…

What happened last year in Gaylord was, basically, a generational type of storm. It’s not tied to trends now suggesting that we’re going to have damaging tornadoes moving further north.

Straight line winds cause far more damage in the U.P. than tornadoes, including a storm that left significant damage north of Baraga in the fall of 2020, and another storm that hit Menominee County last summer…

The winds were around 100 miles per hour, straight-line wind damage that blew down thousands of trees, and actually did some damage to a couple of houses.

Severe thunderstorms can be equally destructive…

Last summer, for example, we had a severe thunderstorm that moved through L’Anse that had hail up to the size of baseballs, and did an awful lot of damage. So when people hear a thunderstorm warning because we think there’s going to be very large hail or damaging winds from a thunderstorm, people should be sheltering just as if we were issuing a tornado warning.

Zika recommends monitoring local or NOAA weather radio through the summer for alerts.

Today’s statewide tornado drill will take place at 1:00. Some communities may activate their emergency sirens, and you may hear or see Emergency Alert System announcements on radio and television stations.

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