Damaging tornado tears through northern Michigan

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Damaging tornado tears through northern Michigan

AccuWeather radar imagery of northern Michigan when the tornado was reported in Gaylord, Mich.

Heavy damage has been reported in Gaylord, Mich., after a large and extremely dangerous tornado was spotted in the area.

A tornado warning was initially issued at 3:38 p.m. for Antrim and Otsego counties in Michigan, which included the city of Gaylord.

About 10 minutes later, the tornado warning for Otsego County was updated to note a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado, which was deemed an emergency situation, according to the National Weather Service.

At 3:48 pm, the tornado was spotted by a National Weather Service employee near the intersection of Michigan 32 and Murner Road, about 2 miles west of Gaylord. About 5 minutes later, the tornado was spotted again about 1 mile east of Gaylord.

Frank McClellan was sitting at Taco Bell in Gaylord when he witnessed the tornado come through the city.

“I was sitting in the Taco Bell, right there on (Michigan 32), and the funnel cloud came right down 32 and for some reason took a turn in the Taco Bell parking lot and hit all the buildings behind us and leveled a bunch of them,” Frank McClellan told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.

McClellan told WWJ that he heard explosions coming their way but remarkably, the tornado did not hit where they were standing inside the Taco Bell.

Little Caesars Pizza in Gaylord was one of the buildings damaged from the storm, with photos posted on Twitter showing missing walls and debris scattered around.

Following the tornado, the Otsego County scanner had reports of gas leaks, damaged homes and injuries. Multiple businesses in the area were said to have sustained heavy damage, according to WLNS-TV meteorologist Blake Harms.

The Michigan State Police added that in addition to structural damage, trees and power lines were blocking roadways, warning people to avoid the Gaylord area as emergency crews responded.

Debris was also thrown onto nearby roads, including onto Michigan 32, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Photos of the damage posted on Twitter showed portions of roofs on homes torn off and trailers stacked on top of each other in a pile of rubble. More than 6,000 customers were without power in Otesgo county as of 4 p.m., according to PowerOutage.us.

Interstate 75 in Michigan was closed both directions in Gaylord due to debris, according to WNEM-TV.

The last tornado to impact near Gaylord was in 2014, when two EF1 tornadoes carved a path about 15 miles south and southeast of the city, according to Tornado Archive.

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