The EF3 tornado that struck Gaylord had winds reaching 140 mph

The tornado that touched down in Gaylord on Friday was an EF3 with winds reaching 140 mph, killing two and injuring 44, according to officials and the National Weather Service.

The twister ranks 16th in injuries and 21st in fatalities in Michigan since 1950, according to the Weather Service.

The last tornado to injure more people than Friday’s tornado in Gaylord was on July 2, 1997, in Highland Park when an F2 tornado injured 90 people, said Jim Keysor, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Gaylord.

There have been seven total deaths in Michigan from tornadoes since 1990, Keysor said.

“Of those seven, this is only the second time in the past 32 years that there have been multiple tornado fatalities,” he said. “It’s pretty rare.”

AFTER: Gaylord tornado kills two and injures 44

Gilchrist investigates the damage

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II visited Gaylord on Saturday afternoon and was able to inspect some of the damage in town before visiting the emergency command center set up by local authorities.

At a news conference around 4:30 p.m., Gilchrist expressed his gratitude for all the work done by first responders in Gaylord over the past 24 hours, and said he and Governor Whitmer were “praying for every soul out there.” was touched. ”

“Two Michiganders we know lost their lives as a result of this tornado. We want them to know that everyone in Michigan is going to hug these families,” he said, from a desk at Kirtland Community College, wearing dark jeans and a blue shirt. buttoned.

The Goodwill store was heavily damaged by a tornado on Friday, May 20, 2022.

Gilchrist noted that Friday’s storm covered a lot of ground and caused extensive damage to residential and commercial areas, saying it was important for everyone to try to understand the extent of the devastation.

The lieutenant governor reiterated the state’s commitment to ensuring that everyone in the region receives all the resources they need. He said officials were working hard to restore power and the internet, and he also reminded affected residents to call 911 in the event of an emergency.

Some areas have started to see their power return, according to Michigan State Police Spt. Lt. Derrick Carroll, who was also present at the press conference. He said outages in the area were originally around 34%, but were reduced to 21% on Saturday evening. Numerous lampposts along Gaylord’s main thoroughfare were back on Saturday afternoon.

Michigan State Police Spl.  Lt. Derrick Carroll speaks during a press conference Saturday, May 21, 2022 in Gaylord, Michigan.  A tornado on Friday injured 44 people and killed two elderly residents of a mobile home park.

According to Carroll, the death toll from Friday’s storm remains at two people. He said they weren’t going to provide a count of missing persons because that number was constantly coming in.

“What happened is…we’ll find one person, but then we’ll get another phone call from loved ones, and another, and another,” he explained.

Carroll said the Red Cross had received a huge amount of donations and encouraged anyone in need of food, water and other supplies like baby diapers to come to the E-Free Church in Gaylord where a refuge has been established.

“Random” statistics

Keysor said deaths and injuries are rare during tornadoes in Michigan.

“In the state of Michigan, we don’t get as many tornadoes in general compared to other parts of the country,” Keysor said. “And then, statistically, to get injuries and/or fatalities normally, these tornadoes have to pass through populated areas.

“So the tornado that touched down in the western parts of Gaylord – a mile further west, for example, probably has hardly any impact on anyone in the center. And it just doesn’t happen that often. .

Jack Elliott stands next to his pickup truck which was hit by a tree during a tornado in Gaylord, Michigan, Friday, May 20, 2022. Elliott was inside his home during the storm and was not injured.

The last tornado to injure more people than Friday’s tornado in Gaylord was on July 2, 1997, in Highland Park when an F2 tornado injured 90 people, Keysor said.

There have been seven total deaths in Michigan from tornadoes since 1990, Keysor said.

“Of those seven, this is only the second time in the past 32 years that there have been multiple tornado fatalities,” he said. “It’s pretty rare.”

The state averages about 15 tornadoes a year, according to the National Weather Service.

“The majority of tornadoes produce no fatalities,” Keysor said. “If you look at the historical database, we go many years, sometimes decades, without seeing a tornado fatality. Two would put it in the top 25 of tornado events in the last 70 plus years in the world. ‘State as far as fatalities go, so it’s still an incredibly rare number considering the number of tornadoes that occur.

The event is even rarer for Otsego County, Keysor said while reviewing tornado data the Weather Service has tracked since 1950.

“This is the fifth tornado on record in the county since 1950, but the previous four had no impact on Gaylord,” he said. “There have been five that have touched at least somewhere in the county or in the past 70 years, but the first has had a direct impact on the most populous center which is Gaylord.”

A tornado on Friday May 20, 2022 left two dead in the Nottingham trailer park.

The two people in their 60s were reported dead in the Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park. One was found dead, the other later died, police said.

“The two deaths, for example, with this event in Gaylord happened in that trailer park, and it’s just because those structures just don’t hold up to high winds very well,” Keysor said. “They’re just not very good and so they tend to get thrown around a lot and unfortunately we tend to see more fatalities in those kinds of situations when tornadoes hit areas like that.”

Residents got little warning

According to Accuweather, meteorologists first noticed the impending weather event before noon on Friday. AccuWeather forecasters determined that between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. was the most likely time for a tornado.

AccuWeather said it began sending urgent alerts at 3:28 p.m. to local businesses and through its mobile app to warn that a tornado was imminent.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning at 3.38pm on Friday for counties Antrim and Otsego, which included Gaylord.

Residents were warned of the impending tornado by Code Red alerts on their cellular devices. Gaylord does not have tornado sirens.

Vehicles are marked as checked for anyone at Goodwill in Gaylord on May 21, 2022.

Tornado sirens are too expensive to operate, Otsego emergency manager Jon Deming said Saturday. Deming said he did not immediately have a figure on the cost of the sirens.

“That’s why we use code red and the state uses code red,” Deming said. “And it’s so much faster and it goes to your phones. It hits TVs and everything. Sirens are good, but a lot of communities just can’t afford to spend that much money on sirens.

As for property damage, Deming said they may be able to estimate the tornado’s financial impact on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of damaged automobiles,” he said. “It will drive the price up very quickly. And we have a lot of houses.”

Lance B. Holton