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News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Massive hail, high winds and a January funnel cloud

A screen shot of National Weather Service radar shows Monday night's severe January thunderstorm at its height in mid-Michigan. Click on the image for a closer look.
Severe thunderstorms hit mid-Michigan Monday night, producing high winds, huge hail, spectacular lightning, and knocking out power across a wide area.
After a day of spring-like, record-setting high temperatures Monday, a powerful cold front moved through the area, producing spring-like severe weather.
A line of very un-January-like severe thunderstorms marched across the region out ahead of the front.
According to the National Weather Service, hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter was reported near Winn. Other hailstones measuring 1.25 inches, 1 inch and 0.88 inches were reported at Mt. Pleasant.
An amateur radio operator 4 miles southwest of Midland told the weather service hail covered the ground at that location 2 inches deep.
Wind gusts up to 60 mph were reported about 8:50 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant at the height of the storm.
Spectacular, greenish-blue lightning, reflecting off what remained of the snowpack, lit up the sky almost continuously.
Heavy downpours accompanied the storm. Observers measured 1.24 inches of rain at Mt. Pleasant in little more than two hours.
Power was reported out in Mt. Pleasant, including at the main office of the Morning Sun; was being updated off-site. Isabella County Emergency Management Director Marc Griffes said a major substation near Mt. Pleasant caught fire briefly.
No immediate estimate of the number of customers without power was available, but the lights were out from Mt. Pleasant at least as far west as Coldwater Road, nine miles west of Mt. Pleasant.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Montcalm, Gratiot and Isabella counties after radar indicated a funnel cloud in a severe thunderstorm. There were no immediate reports of touchdowns.
Griffes said sirens were sounded in the area that was under the tornado warning, which included much of southern Isabella County.
The severe weather came in the wake of record-setting high temperatures in the central part of the state.
After dense fog closed or delayed schools Monday morning, temperatures rose rapidly.
The temperature hit 52 degrees at Mt. Pleasant Municipal Airport at 3:16 p.m., shattering the old high-temperature record of 47 set in 1933. Officially, the high was 55 degrees at Central Michigan University, the official weather monitoring station.
Alma topped out at 57, and a report of 58 degrees was reported at Rosebush about 6 p.m. before the cold front producing the severe weather moved through.
The rain, combined with snow melt, has the potential to cause flooding of area creeks and rivers, and the weather service has posted a flood watch for mid-Michigan.
Those living in areas prone to flooding should monitor the latest forecasts, and be prepared to take action if flooding develops, forecasters say.


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