We’re off to an early start to severe weather season in Southeast Michigan.

Two tornadoes touched down in Shiawassee County and two in Genesee County as strong storms swept the state last Thursday, damaging homes and knocking out power to thousands. The most significant EF2-rated tornado centered on Vernon, where 70 homes were damaged and roughly 20 had significant damage. A tornado recovery meeting was held this past Sunday afternoon at Durand High School. Officials are still assessing the damage and financial impact but it’s expected that it will take at least two weeks to clean up debris. Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rich Pollman with the National Weather Service White Lake Township Office says fortunately, there were no deaths or injuries.

Pollman says for Southeast Michigan, the threat of severe weather and tornados really starts ramping up in April and continues through the summer where it reaches a peak around the end of June into July and then comes to a tail end in September. However, that’s not to say tornadoes won’t occur in March or October – and he says they’ve certainly seen that over the past few years. While there have been a few severe weather events, Pollman tells WHMI overall the last three severe weather seasons have been remarkably quiet for Southeast Michigan as a whole. Unfortunately, he says you can’t take much from that as to whether this year will be quiet or more active.

Severe Weather Awareness Week runs from Sunday, March 24th through Saturday, March 30th. Pollman says it’s a good time to get prepared before dangerous weather strikes this spring and summer. Part of that involves a statewide tornado drill next Wednesday at 1pm. Details and preparedness tips can be found through the provided link. Pollman will also be a guest this Sunday at 8:30am on WHMI's Viewpoint. (JM)