Damaging storms bring hail and possible tornadoes to parts of the Great Lakes

Feb 28, 2024



Severe thunderstorms with large hail and several possible rare winter tornadoes toppled trees, cut power and damaged homes in the Chicago area and other parts of the Great Lakes into Wednesday morning.

In Grand Blanc Township, Michigan, near Flint, a possible tornado knocked down trees and damaged homes and gas lines shortly after midnight, but no one was hurt, officials said. Authorities helped move several residents to the firehouse and said they could return home once leaks were repaired.

In Geneva, in Chicago’s western suburbs, storms Tuesday evening uprooted trees and left some homes with broken windows and shorn-off doors, said Fire Chief Mike Antenore.

Geneva resident Rebecca Harrington said the storm “cycloned” into her home and collapsed its foyer area.

“The back of my house is sort of hanging off,” Harrington told WGN-TV, which reported no injuries.

Warning sirens jolted awake residents of central Ohio early Wednesday as a possible tornado hit near Columbus. Significant damage was reported at an airport in Madison County, between Dayton and Columbus. Toppled trees closed roads in the area until debris could be cleared.

Nearly 50,000 customers in Ohio and Michigan lacked power early Wednesday, according to PowerOutage.us.

If a tornado is confirmed in Grand Blanc Township, it would be only the second February tornado for that part of Michigan since recordkeeping began in 1950, following one in Wayne County on Feb. 28, 1974, said meteorologist Dave Kook, of the weather service’s Detroit office.

The warm weather and severe storms, including hail up to an inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter, on Tuesday and Wednesday are unusual for the area this time of the year, Kook said.

“This is not typical of late February by any means,” he said. “Basically, it’s kind of a month ahead of schedule for southeast Michigan.”

The weather service office that covers southwestern and central Ohio has recorded winter tornadoes almost every year since 2012.

Weather service teams will conduct surveys to confirm tornado reports around the region. ___

Associated Press writer Sarah Brumfield contributed to this report.

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