August 2nd, 2015: Large hail, Owendale tornado - WNEM TV 5

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August 2nd, 2015: Large hail, Owendale tornado

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As far as severe weather days go, Sunday August 2nd, 2015 was certainly a memorable one in the state of Michigan.

Multiple rounds of severe impacted the state of Michigan from late that Sunday morning well into the late evening hours of Sunday night. Severe weather reports were numerous from the UP all the way to the Michigan Indiana/Ohio line. 

Most storm reports were wind damage and hail reports, which are not uncommon in the state of Michigan. But what made this day stand out was the size of the hail, especially in northern Michigan. 

Largest Hail On Record In West Branch

According to the National Weather Service office in Gaylord, hail the size of a softball (4.25") was reported seven miles north of West Branch around 5 PM. As you would expect, several reports of damage were reported to vehicles and other property.

Hail of that size was the largest hail stone on record since the records were started in 1950, and the largest since a 3.5" stone in Arenac County in 1998. Outside of the softball sized hail, more reports of hail 1"-2" in diameter were reported, which compares to the size of a quarter up to the size of a hen egg. 

Courtesy of the National Weather Service in Gaylord, we have a picture of that hailstone below. 

Owendale Tornado

One of the other memorable events from this day was a tornado that developed in Huron County. 

The National Weather Service storm damage survey confirmed the tornado touched down 2.7 miles west of Owendale near the intersection of Sebewaing Road and Shebeon Roads around 6:39 PM. 

The damage path with that storm covered a distance of 7.1 miles with a width of 100 yards before lifting 4.4 miles east of Owendale, just north of the intersection of Sebewaing and Elkton roads. 

No injuries were reported, but damage to several buildings, along with uprooted trees, and power outages were reported. 

After the damage survey, the NWS confirmed it was EF-1 tornado with peak winds reaching 90 MPH. 

Severe Weather Environment of August 2nd, 2015

From the beginning, it looked like a nasty day ahead in the Great Lakes region. During the morning update that Sunday, the Storm Prediction Center placed much of the Lower Peninsula in an Enhanced Risk (30%) severe weather.

The risk for damaging winds and hail were the higher risks for the day, but a 5% tornado risk was issued for essentially the middle of the Lower Peninsula.

Beyond the very tip of the UP, almost all of the state was included in that day's risk area. Those outlooks are attached below.  

It started with a warm front that lifted from southern Michigan into the Straits of Mackinac. Strong southwesterly winds between the warm front and cold front, the warm sector, led to temperatures surging into the 80s and low 90s, accompanied by dew points in the middle 60s.

With that heat and humidity, we had very unstable air mass that was ripe for strong thunderstorms, helped by sufficient wind shear to support long-lived convection (thunderstorms). 

On the radar loop below, you can see how the day evolved with the first warnings being issued in northern Michigan early in the afternoon and last warnings continuing in southern lower Michigan into the next day. 

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