EF-1 Tornado Touches down in West Lansing - Straight line wind damage blankets area

The Lansing Area Skywarn group was called into action on Sunday June 8, 2008 in response to an advancing line of Severe Thunderstorms heading towards the Lansing area. A line of storms formed over Lake Michigan with winds in excess of 70 mph. 6 fatalities are being blamed on this storm, including 1 in Eaton County where a woman was working on her RV and the storm winds blew the RV over on top of her.

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids did a damage survey assessment on Monday June 9, 2008 and determined that an EF-1 Tornado touched down in Eaton County and tracked through the West Lansing/Delta Township area until it encountered the Lansing Board of Water & Light Eckert Plant near downtown Lansing. The tornado caused damage to the cooling towers at the BWL plant and then lifted shortly thereafter.

 

 

The Lansing Area Skywarn net was activated shortly after the issuance of Severe Thunderstorm Watch #487 by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK at 1:00 PM EDT on Sunday June 8, 2008. The Lansing Area Skywarn net was activated until almost 8PM EDT doing damage assessment. As was the case on August 24, 2007, two nets were started on seperate repeaters - One for damage inside of the City of Lansing and one for damage in the rest of Eaton/Ingham and Clinton counties.

View Pictures from Sunday June 8, 2008
National Weather Service Storm Survey
Tornado Warning Text

Damage Survey
The NWS survey team first stopped in Mulliken and traveled 5 miles south of the town. Damage to trees was recorded along Mulliken Rd, Needmore Hwy, and Cochran Rd. Some large limbs were down and the occasional spruce uprooted. Winds were estimated to be up to 55 knots (63 mph) along Mulliken Rd and Needmore Hwy.

More significant damage was noted on Cochran Rd north of Needmore Hwy. Convergent damage from the west (northern extent of localized damage) and southwest (southern extent of localized damage) was noted. Numerous trees and limbs were down, a porch awning blown off, and a garage was completely destroyed in this convergent area. An EF1 tornado rating (75 knots or 86 mph) was assigned for this damage on Cochran Rd. The tornado touched down around 3:45 PM EDT.

The survey team believes the tornado continued onto Strange Hwy, briefly weakening to EF0 (65 knots or 75 mph). Multiple large trees were uprooted along Strange Hwy approaching M-100 (Hartel Rd). Upon heading north on M-100, moderate to significant roof damage was seen on 4 different houses. The tornado regained its EF1 intensity (75 knots or 86 mph).

The NWS survey team then headed east on Mount Hope Hwy and saw dozens of large spruces and maples uprooted, noticing convergent falls from the south and southwest. Four barns were destroyed. Significant roof damage to homes reappeared as well. Residents told the NWS survey team that the intense winds lasted as little as 20 seconds. One resident who lost his garage to the tornado said the sound was reminiscent of a freight train.

The tornado continued toward a subdivision on the west side of Lansing. In particular, N Cambridge road was hit with numerous large trees uprooted, a few landing on residents' homes. The Country Club of Lansing was also affected with limbs and trees down.

The tornado created its final burst of damage at the Lansing Board of Water and Light's Eckert Plant. A cooling tower was completely destroyed, while another tower was damaged. Workers described the scene as a "large black wall" heading toward the plant. We believe the tornado rapidly weakened and lifted immediately to the east of the plant, as damage indicators consisted of mostly some limbs down and the occasional tree uprooted.

In conclusion, the NWS storm damage survey conducted on Monday provided convincing evidence that an EF1 tornado developed over Cochran Rd about 4 miles southwest of Grand Ledge. Though briefly weakening to EF0 status shortly after descent, the tornado regained its EF1 status before finally lifting immediately east of the Eckert Plant in Lansing.