The storm cut through Kent County just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, toppling trees and downing power lines in its path.
One of the hardest-hit areas seemed to be the Belknap Lookout neighborhood, where winds caused significant damage to the apartment building and three houses on Fairview Avenue NE near Hastings Street.
It was pretty eye-opening, Grand Rapids Fire Capt. Kevin Carmel said after viewing the Belknap damage.
Video: Tens of thousands without power after severe weather blows through West Michigan
Storms knock out power to thousands in West Michigan
Carmel, who started with the fire department 24 years ago, called the damage a totally unique situation. Its not something Ive encountered previously in my career in Grand Rapids.
Buildings damaged by storm in GRs Belknap Lookout
Firefighters said they located and spoke with all tenants of the apartment building, as well as residents of the damaged houses, and found no injuries.
Firefighters went through each apartment to make sure everyone was out. In at least one case, they needed to force entry into a unit.
Authorities are asking the public to stay out of the area because of downed power lines and other dangers. Firefighters planned to be in the neighborhood overnight to monitor the situation.
The storm also caused damage in the Ada area, with firefighters indicating some roads were impassable because of downed trees. One of those areas was Conservation Street NE near Dogwood Avenue.
At midnight, Consumers Energy was reporting more than 31,000 customers in Kent County without electricity.
Thousands without power in Kent County after severe storms in West Michigan
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tornado sirens went off in metro Grand Rapids Wednesday evening as a strong storm rushed through the area, leaving destroyed roofs and downed power lines in its wake — but no reported injuries.
It’s not yet known for certain if there was an actual tornado, though the storm conditions were right for it so it seems likely. Damage could also have resulted from strong straight-line winds, since gusts were clocked at above 50 mph, or even a microburst.
Did We Have a Tornado?
Wow! Here's the storm that likely producedlikely tornado damage in Kent Co. View is as it moved towards Cornerstone, first from the West, looking toward downtown GR. Then looking South toward 1-96 and Beltline. Potential power flash 28 seconds in. Video by Rebecca Robinson pic.twitter.com/g8hUAEEGLi
Tornado warnings issued for parts of western Michigan expire
The National Weather Service says it seems a tornado may have been on the ground near Lowell, though that wasn’t confirmed Wednesday night.
A 2009 Michigan law allowed promise zones in 10 Michigan communities with above average rates of childhood poverty. In 2017, the legislation expanded to 15, allowing Grand Rapids to secure a spot in 2018. Current participants include Detroit, Lansing and Muskegon.
In Grand Rapids’ Belknap Lookout neighborhood across I-196 from the Medical Mile, part of the roof was stripped away from an apartment building on Fairview Avenue NE at Hastings Street. Across the street, two houses also had their roofs destroyed.
Among closings: Forest Hills Public Schools; Innovation Central and Grand Rapids Montessori in Grand Rapids; Lincoln School and Lincoln Development Center in Kent Intermediate School District; Countryside Elementary School in Byron Center and Huron Potawatomi Head Start.
Firefighters said everyone was safely out of the homes; they double-checked the apartments to make sure.
In the same neighborhood, a carport collapsed on top of a car. Trees were uprooted and branches were sheared away. Pieces of roof, insulation, duct work, tree branches and wires were scattered everywhere.
There was a gas leak in the area, but crews said lines had been turned off and so had electricity. Consumers Energy said that it couldn’t start working to restore power in Belknap Lookout until after damage assessors were out Thursday morning.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Several schools have closed or delayed starts Thursday, Sept. 12, after a powerful storm hit West Michigan the night before and left thousands without power.
At the intersection of Third Street and Broadway Avenue NW in Grand Rapids, an air handler that feeds the Basilica of St. Adalbert burst into flames. Firefighters were able to douse it. There was no damage to the church immediately apparent.
Partial building collapse on Madison near Oakdale in Grand Rapids. @WOODTV pic.twitter.com/ItIjei5LKF
The largest concentration of those without power were the about 20,000 in Kent County, according to the Consumers Energy outage map. Storms left some expensive damage there, sending trees into homes and sparking at least a couple reported house fires.
News 8 crews also saw black traffic lights, transformer fires and sparking downed power lines, and trees brought down across roads, on cars and atop houses.
Crews with the Cascade Fire Department tell me theyve closed this portion of Whitneyville Ave SE to monitor this live, downed power line. Nothing they can do until @ConsumersEnergy turns it off. @WOODTV pic.twitter.com/fvMuSkpBXi
In the Ada area, downed trees blocked off roads in the area Dogwood Court, trapping some people in their homes without power.
A firefighter went on foot to check on residents. He said that everyone was safe, so he headed off to the next call.
A man who lives there but wasn’t at home when the storm came through was planning to start up his chainsaw and work his way down the road. He said he’s supposed to host a wedding at his house Saturday.
Later, utility crews started cutting up the downed trees so they could get past to respond to a gas leak.
Consumers & DTE Energy on scene responding to gas leak. Chainsawing trees that are blocking road so their vehicles can get thru. @WOODTV pic.twitter.com/l99OPyS9zd
There storm caused widespread outages: Consumers Energy Roger Morgenstern said there were about 49,800 customers without service across the state — 31,500 of them in Kent County — late Wednesday night.
About 8,000 customers in Kent and Ottawa counties lost power because of damage to high-voltage lines. Morgenstern said those lines, which serve lots of customers, were high on the priority list and that some of those people could be back online by Thursday morning.
But Morgenstern said it could be the end of the day Friday before everyone in the region has power back. He added that the restoration estimate could be pushed back if storms in the forecast cause more outages.
Morgenstern said crews started by responding to emergency scenes like the gas leak on Dogwood Court in Ada. He said the Jackson-based utility may have to get counties to clear trees so it can get to all of the areas with downed lines.
“People just need to be patient. We are making situations safe. That’s our first priority, to make the situation safe, and then we will restore power,” he said.
You should always stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines. If you see one, call 911 and then Consumers at 800.477.5050.
There were road closures on Hayes Street between 8th Avenue and Fruitridge Avenue in Ottawa County due to downed lines and along M-37 between Hickory and Banfield roads in southern Barry County due to downed trees.
As another arm of the storm swept through the Newaygo area late Wednesday afternoon, it downed trees and power lines there, too.
Director of Newaygo County Emergency Services Abigail Watkins told News 8 there were reports of trees and wires down and water over roads, mostly in Brooks and Garfield townships, but that she had not heard of any serious damage or injuries.
Newaygo County dispatchers say M-37 was shut down between 64th and 56th streets for a time because of debris in the road.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Storms that slammed into West Michigan Wednesday evening brought down power lines and left tens of thousands of people without service, most of them in areas where conditions were right for tornadoes.
Consumers Energy said more than 56,000 customers were affected by the severe weather. As of 6:30 a.m. Thursday, power had been restored to more than 26,000 homes and businesses.
Wednesday storm: The science behind the spin-up by Ellen Bacca / Sep 12, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Severe storms rolled through West Michigan Wednesday night, with one producing potentially several tornado touchdowns spanning from eastern Kent County to far northern Eaton County.
The storm that likely produced a tornado began as a storm rushing in from the west across Ottawa County. Wind and rotation from storms is best viewed on “velocity” mode, which shows what the winds are doing inside each cell.
Whitmer promises work ‘day and night’ on budget by Rick Albin / Sep 11, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Negotiations seem to be moving forward — if cautiously — on a state budget two days after the unexpected development that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would not require that it be tied to new revenue for roads.
Even though the Democratic governor is dealing with a Republican-controlled Legislature, the two sides have shown some signs of cooperation, especially now that a roads deal is off the table.