By Jessica Mathews /

Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week kicks off Sunday and Livingston County residents and businesses are encouraged to take some time to get prepared.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rich Pollman with the National Weather Service Detroit/Pontiac Office says severe weather season really starts to pick up in April and runs through the fall season - noting there’s a lot more severe weather that happens in September now compared to 20 years ago. He said the season peaks from the last half of June through the month of July and they always see some sort of severe weather during those six weeks.

Pollman said Southeast Michigan had a number of quiet years for severe weather up until last year when there were eight tornadoes overall, with some that reached the EF1 and EF2 category. What’s more common in the state are severe thunderstorms, especially those with strong winds. Pollman says those can range from 60 to 100 mph, the same as weak tornadoes, but actually affect a much larger area depending on squall lines. He noted the issue in Michigan is that there are a lot of trees and the ground is usually pretty wet, so trees can topple over in high winds and people don’t want to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time around a fallen tree.

Pollman told WHMI last year was a well above average year for severe weather and it was the first active year in Southeast Michigan since 2014. He said the most noteworthy item with changing weather patterns is the amount of heavy rainfall, which results in more flooding events. Pollman said in early August of last year, there was a pretty significant flooding event in Livingston County with nighttime storms and a lot of area homes and roads were flooded - which is something being seen due to changing climate patterns with global warming.

Individuals, families, and businesses are encouraged to take time during the coming week to develop or review severe weather preparedness plans so everyone knows what to do if there’s the threat of significant severe weather.

Pollman stressed the power of having multiple ways to receive warnings from the National Weather Service in case the power goes out, a cell tower gets knocked down or a weather radio signal gets compromised. He says severe weather can affect all of those and having back-ups assure people get notified and can stay safe.

In conjunction with Severe Weather Awareness Week, a statewide tornado drill will be conducted on Wednesday at 1pm and community members and businesses are encouraged to participate and practice protocols.

More information is available in the provided link.