The Fruitport Storm of August 9, 2009


Posted: Aug 9, 2020 / 03:00 AM EDT Updated: Aug 9, 2020 / 08:00 AM EDT

The two worst storms to hit Fruitport in the last 50 years (IMHO) are the Derecho of (May 31) 1998 and the severe winds of August 9, 2009 – 11 years ago today. August 9 was a Sunday. I did the weather on TV the day before on Saturday August 8 and I used the new “tracking tool” to track a mesoscale convective vortmax that was in Eastern Nebraska. These tend to move along at a constant speed and direction and I tracked it to Muskegon, Michigan at mid-afternoon on Sunday. Above pic. is the storm seen from satellite.

Sunday, I did not work, but I was the evening speaker in my church. I remember going out and digging up a small corn plant. I wanted to talk about how a single corn plant transpires 53 gallons of water into the air during it’s lifetime. Multiply that by all the corn and (soy)beans across the Corn Belt and you have a lot of water going into the air. Land use changes like this can affect climate. Anyhow, while I was speaking at church, I could hear the strong winds outside as the storm moved in.

After I got done, Gayle and I got to the car and drove to see storm damage. We drove from Rockford all the way to the Fruitport area.

First, this area of storms produced large hail as they moved across far E. Nebraska and then Iowa. One hailstone 3″ in diameter fell at Eldora IA. The storms continued east into S. Wisconsin and far N. Illinois – then crossed Lake Michigan.

Here’s a video – driving through the storm near Fruitport…strong wind and very heavy rain. A gust to 61 mph was recorded at the Muskegon Co. Airport. I estimated that winds were 80-90 mph in Fruitport. There were dozens (maybe hundreds) of trees down and some were big, healthy trees. I saw one spot where the wind peeled some siding off a house. Trees blocked some roads in Fruitport. It took weeks to clear away the debris in Fruitport Township.

Storm reports for August 9 from the Storm Prediction Center

The storm also produced damage in Spring Lake, Grand Haven, Ravenna, Kent City, Conklin and Sparta. One man was killed when a large branch fell on his moving car. If I remember right, that was on Mercury Dr. Look at the map above. It shows severe weather reports from August 9. Note the severe storms that moved from Toronto, Canada southeast to Delaware. Here’s another close lightning strike in Toronto and frequent lightning in NY. You can see the storms that formed in E. Nebraska that moved to West Michigan. Another severe storm caused nearly half a million dollars in damage to a school near Jackson MI. The storm left 8,200 customers without power just in Muskegon County. A downed tree blocked part of I-96 near Fruitport. Apple trees were blown over near Conklin and south of Kent City.