Tornado in Michigan and storms in Ohio and Maryland kill toddler and injure at least 13 children

A tornado that ripped through the Detroit suburbs earlier this week downed trees that crashed through the roof of Abby Sata’s home, causing water to pour down.

Although they now have a giant crane removing trees from the house, they were lucky no one was injured. The tornado that damaged Sata’s home in Livonia, Michigan, tore through several neighborhoods and felled a tree, killing a toddler on Wednesday. It developed so quickly that there was no advance notice from the National Weather Service or others that would normally have prompted the activation of warning sirens.

Sata, 21, said she got a storm warning on her phone, but no indication that a tornado was lurking.

“I was in shock,” she said. “It would have been very useful. Even three seconds before the tornado would have given me a heads-up.”

The tornado in Livonia “revolved almost as quickly as it started dissipating,” said Jaclyn Anderson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Detroit office. The tornado, which was known to be weak and short-lived, traveled a path of about 5 miles (8 kilometers). More powerful tornadoes generated by intense storms can remain on the ground for 20, 25 or even 100 miles and are much easier to anticipate and issue warnings, she said.

Although tornado forecasting equipment has increased “tenfold” in recent decades, based on a combination of weather radar and local observations, Anderson said short-lived tornadoes can still be “quite challenging when it comes to issuing warnings.”

Forecasters create tornado forecasts every day, taking different weather elements into account, said Victor Gensini, an associate professor at Northern Illinois University who studies tornadoes and extreme weather. But sometimes these conditions occur on a small scale, for example a sudden breeze coming from a lake.

It’s been a grim spring for tornadoes in the US. April had the second highest number of tornadoes for that month ever in the country.

In suburban Maryland, a series of storms produced unusually strong tornadoes Wednesday evening that felled trees, damaged buildings and downed power lines.

But while Gensini said national numbers are slightly above average at this point, it’s still too early to make definitive statements about the tornado year as a whole. He said the US could get as many as 1,500 tornadoes a year, and that this time of year is statistically the most likely to see tornado activity in the US; many of them are simply not in high-profile places or captured in clear footage.

“The tornadoes that happened this year were very visible,” he said.

Gensini, who also studies how climate change affects tornado activity, said the science of attributing twister-spawn storms to climate change is still in its infancy, and it can be difficult to pin the points on one individual tornado. to link. But looking at trends on a broader scale, his team has found that tornadoes are becoming more likely to develop in regions further south and east of the US than in the past.

Tornado warnings were issued Wednesday evening for parts of several other states, including Ohio, New Jersey and Delaware. In Ohio, a suspected tornado ripped off the canopy of a gas station early Thursday and severely damaged a restaurant and discount store in the eastern village of Frazeysburg. Eight people suffered minor injuries, mostly from flying debris, said Jeff Jadwin, Muskingum County emergency management director.

While tornadoes are not unheard of in Maryland, they are relatively rare — especially outbreaks of the volume seen Wednesday evening. At least five people were injured and the weather service issued 22 tornado warnings on Wednesday, the fourth most in a single day by the office, which covers much of Maryland, the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. according to Kevin Rodriguez, chief meteorologist at the weather service office in Sterling, Virginia.

“It was a very busy night,” said Jeremy Geiger, a National Weather Service hydrologist. “It’s one of those things: all the right ingredients coming together at the right time. So that is always the question.”

Geiger said it wasn’t a super energetic storm system, but the wind shear and other factors gave it a boost and created the rotation that could produce tornadoes. He said the system was especially challenging because forecasters issued flash flood and tornado warnings at the same time, with some residents advised to seek higher ground and others to take shelter in the basement.

In Gaithersburg, Maryland, George Mhaano told WJLA-TV that a crane might be needed to lift a tree from his home, so he would likely stay in a hotel. When the tornado hit, Mhanno said he heard loud pops and banging on the window, so he hid in a bathtub. Later, firefighters came knocking and told him to leave, which he did.

‘Thank God I wasn’t hurt. And thank God everyone was in church at my house,” Mhaano told WJLA-TV. “This is only material. It can be replaced or repaired. No one was hurt, so that’s all that matters.”

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