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Experts break down Gaylord tornado

The cleanup in Gaylord continues Sunday after the devastating tornado on May 20.
Published: May. 22, 2022 at 2:46 PM EDT
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GAYLORD, Mich. (WNEM) - The cleanup in Gaylord continues Sunday after the devastating tornado on May 20.

Consumers Energy estimates about 15,000 customers were impacted. Two people were killed as the storm passed through Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park.

On Sunday afternoon, State Police announced that residents would be allowed to return.

“We had, you know, dozens and dozens of poles taken down, power lines, you know, tangled up everywhere. It was, it was massive,” said RoNeisha Mullen, a spokesperson for Consumers Energy. “I don’t think that anyone was expecting wind speeds of over 140 miles per hour, but we did have crews staged in the area with resources that they needed. But once we were able to assess the damage, we saw that there was a significant, you know, need there, and so we sent additional resources to assist in that restoration.”

Almost a hundred crews were in the area.

“So, this is certainly on the rare side, and for this time of year, we have had events of this sort of intensity in May before, but they’re pretty rare,” said Dr. John Allen, an Associate Professor of Meteorology at Central Michigan University.

He said this was an impressive tornado for not being fully condensed, not having a clear funnel.

“It’s a visual perception problem. Right? So, people might not necessarily anticipate, most people link a tornado to, you know, the Wizard of Oz style, you know, there’s this column that reaches the ground and you might see the dust shape and debris, but it can be a little bit hard for, for identification,” Allen said.

Allen said this might explain why some people didn’t take shelter.

“I saw some amazing pictures that were suggesting, you know, that we two by fours going through the side of pickups. You know, that’s straight through, you know, the steel side of a pickup. Now you can imagine what impact that would have on a person,” Allen said.

He also said the rarity of tornadoes in Gaylord at this time of year can affect people’s actions, this lines up with what witnesses told TV5.

“Not a single person shifted anything. Like no one ran for anything, no one did anything except for continue to shop,” said Brittany Gunderson, a Gaylord resident.

But Allen said as long as you’re east of the Rockies, you’re more likely to have tornadoes than anywhere else on earth.

Allen said leading into and during severe weather season and when we are more likely to see extreme weather, you should always have a plan of action in case you get a severe weather alert on your phone.