Rare Michigan tornado warning in January

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Storm Chase Details

Chase Date: January 7, 2008
Chase Partners:
Andy Gangler

Chasers Encountered:
None

Miles Logged: 337
States Chased: MI
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks

Chase Recap:

A Tornado Watch for Southern Lower Michigan in January! What a rare occurance. I started the chase off around 1600 Eastern Time right after leaving work. My chase partner this evening was my co-worker Andy. We headed down I-69 towards Kalamazoo and got onto I-94. Reports of Tornadoes and heavy damage kept coming in from the Rockford, IL area, and then further along from the Racine and Kenosha, WI areas. We both made it to Kalamazoo and stopped for gassing up and dinner as there were 2 supercells worth chasing – One was down near St. Louis, MO and the other was about to enter Lake Michigan over Milwaukee. I made the decision to head north on US-131 and intercept that cell when it came across the lake. I wasn’t very hopeful that it would hold together over the lake.

I was entering the south end of Grand Rapids on 131 when the weather radio went off – A Tornado Warning for Muskegon County for that cell as it came on shore. There wasn’t very good rotation, but it was showing a TVS on GR3 nonetheless. Andy and I positioned ourselves on the south end of the cell right at M-37 and M-46 as it passed over. We had to make a slight correction and go a bit north, right into the hook echo area.

As the cell passed by, we headed north on M-37 and went to M-82 North of Grant, MI. We headed east on M-82 and managed to catch the core of the cell which was giving 70dbz returns at that point in time. I ran into the road being covered with 1/2″ hail, and it was still coming down. This caused a bit of a slow down as the road was really slippery.

We kept up the chase and crossed US-131. We raced over to Howard City, MI and then north to M-46. We took M-46 east through Montcalm county. Approximately 5 miles out from Edmore a Tornado warning was issued. We were able to see the back end of the storm, and while 2 funnel clouds were reported near shephard, we were unable to ever get a good visual on anything on the rear end of the storm. We took M-46 back to US-127 and headed south to return home and catch the next line of storms which was coming out of the Kalamazoo area and into Eaton/Calhoun counties. We raced south to I-96 and then east on 96 towards the line of storms which was starting to bow out. We managed to get in front of the line near Fowlerville, but it was general unimpressive. 40 MPH winds were about the max we encountered, and turned around and headed back. All in all, a great chase for the month of January.