Most Tornadoes in a Single Day in Michigan

Bill’s Blog

Posted: May 26, 2020 / 10:47 PM EDT Updated: May 26, 2020 / 10:47 PM EDT

The most tornadoes ever in Lower Michigan in a single day was 19. That occurred on May 21, 2001. There were four tornadoes in Kent Co. They were small and brief. One hit York Creeek Apartments in Comstock Park, another just to the east along Jupiter Dr. in Belmont. Tornadoes also touched down near Byron Center and Caledonia. There was one other spot in Grandville that I remember going out to check, where trees were down.

Across Lower Michigan, there were two EF2 tornadoes, 4 EF1 tornadoes and 13 EF0 tornadoes. Besides the tornadoes in Kent Co., tornadoes were also reported in Ottawa Co. near Marne and in, Allegan, Barry, Kalamazoo, Eaton, Gratiot, Clinton, Ionia and Isabella Counties.

The map above is Severe Weather Reports on May 21 2001 in the U.S. Red dots are where tornadoes touched down, blue dots are wind damage and green dots are severe hail reports. There was an EF2 tornado shortly after noon near Richland in Kalamazoo County.

I remember the day well.  I had a morning speech in Spring Lake.  It was a gray morning with a low cloud deck, scattered showers and a cool east wind.  There was a fairly sharp warm from coming north from Northern Indiana and there was a quick windshift with the front from the east to the south.  The first warning came out just as I came into the Weather Office.  Here’s a summary of some of the tornadoes (lots of info at the link).

Radar from May 21 2001 showing tornado east of Howell

 This is a radar image of a tornado east of Howell. You can see the characteristic “hook echo” that looks a little like the number 6.

Radar – Velocity Mode showing tornado May 21, 2001

This is Doppler radar velocity data…showing the circulating winds with the tornado east of Howell. Here’s more on the tornadoes in SE Michigan that day. There was one injury near Mt. Pleasant, but no fatalities that day.