Tornado packing 115 mph winds touched down west of Grand Blanc, on ground for 10 minutes

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down in the Grand Blanc area early Wednesday after midnight, packing winds of up to 115 miles an hour.

Kelley Quijano of Grand Blanc Township talks about a tree hitting her home waking her before running downstairs as a tornado touched down ahead of the sirens sounding on East Reid Road near South Dort Highway in Grand Blanc Township on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, after overnight severe storms swept through the area damaging property. "It was like a guardian angel over top of us and it went right through us. I don't know how its standing," said Quijano, about her house that was surrounded by uprooted trees and a damaged two-story barn after a tornado touched down. "I thought for sure I'd be running downstairs and the whole house was going to be lifting over top of me. That's how strong it felt." Quijano said she had been in a tornado before in a different area while out running.

The EF2 tornado touched down at 1:12 a.m. 3 miles west of Grand Blanc and lifted off the ground 10 minutes later, at 1:22 a.m., according to the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

According to meteorologist Alex Manion, a tornado in February is rare. Since 1950, when the weather service began tracking tornadoes in Michigan, the state has had just seven February tornadoes. And even more unusual, they all happened on the same day — Feb. 28. The earliest was recorded in 1974, in Wayne County, with another four in 2017, in the southwest corner of the state, and two on Wednesday — the tornado in Genesee County and another in Calhoun County west of Jackson.

Trees down in the yard of Kelley Quijano's Grand Blanc Township home on East Reid Road where she said a tornado touched down ahead of the sirens sounding near South Dort Highway in Grand Blanc Township on Wednesday.
Trees down in the yard of Kelley Quijano's Grand Blanc Township home on East Reid Road where she said a tornado touched down ahead of the sirens sounding near South Dort Highway in Grand Blanc Township on Wednesday.

With a maximum width of 450 yards, the Grand Blanc tornado cut a path of 5.7 miles, with the most damage occurring at an industrial complex, where non-load bearing walls were blown out and roofs were ripped.

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The tornado uprooted trees and snapped utility poles in half. A handful of houses had blown-out garage doors or partial roof damage, but residential damage was not widespread. No injuries were reported.

Southeast Michigan averages about five tornadoes a year; statewide the average is about 15.

A section of a two-story barn that was destroyed in the yard of Kelley Quijano's Grand Blanc Township home on East Reid Road where she said a tornado touched down ahead of the sirens sounding near South Dort Highway in Grand Blanc Township on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, after overnight severe storms swept through the area damaging property.
A section of a two-story barn that was destroyed in the yard of Kelley Quijano's Grand Blanc Township home on East Reid Road where she said a tornado touched down ahead of the sirens sounding near South Dort Highway in Grand Blanc Township on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, after overnight severe storms swept through the area damaging property.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Rare February tornado hits Grand Blanc, uproots trees, damages roofs