By definition, a tornado is a violently rotating column of air in
contact with the ground. When the column of air is aloft and does not
produce damage, the visible portion is properly called a funnel cloud.
Tornadoes can occur anytime of the day or night, but are most prevalent
during the hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Tornadoes occur most frequently during the
months of April, May, June, and July. They develop from severe
thunderstorms and typically approach from the west at speeds from 35 to 70
mph. The average tornado is on the ground for less than 10 minutes and
travels a distance of about 5 miles. Rotation winds in the tornado may
reach speeds between 100 and 300 mph. Tornadoes do their destructive work
through the combined action of their strong rotary winds and the impact of
A TORNADO WATCH is issued by the
National Weather Service
Severe Storms Forecast Center when weather conditions are favorable for
the development of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. When a Tornado
Watch is issued for Midland County, you should be alert for signs of
threatening weather and make preliminary plans for action. Stay tuned to
a local radio or television station for special weather statements and
A TORNADO WARNING is issued by the National Weather Service
Office at White Lake when a tornado has been sighted by trained spotters
or is strongly indicated by radar. When a tornado is sighted in Midland
County, the outdoor warning sirens in the Midland area are activated.
Listen closely to warning information. If a tornado is nearby, take
protective action immediately. At times, you may be in the warning area,
but the reported tornado may not be nearby. Remember, you may still be
at risk and should be prepared to take cover since the storm may be
moving you way or may produce additional tornadoes or damaging winds.
Tornado Safety Requires Immediate Action
Stay away from windows, doors, and outside
Protect your head.
In homes and small buildings - go to the
basement or an interior part of the lowest level if an underground
shelter is not available.
Closets, bathrooms, and interior walls
offer the best protection in many cases.
Get under something heavy and sturdy if you
In schools, nursing homes, factories, and
shopping centers, go to pre-designated shelter areas. Interior hallways
on the lowest floor are usually best.
In multi-story buildings, go to interior
small rooms or hallways on as low a floor as possible.
In mobile homes or vehicles, leave and take shelter in a substantial
structure. If there is no nearby shelter, lie flat in the nearest ditch
or ravine with your hands shielding your head.
The following storm statistics for Michigan are from years
Number of tornadoes: 712 (20th in the nation)
Number of deaths: 237 (fifth in the nation)
Number of injuries: 3,214 (eighth in the nation)