Prepare for severe weather; storm spotter training offered

Despite winter’s grip lasting well into April, the warmth of spring and summer will eventually return.

With the arrival of the new seasons, come threats from spring and summertime severe weather.

While the overall number of severe weather events were below average last year, severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, and tornadoes were still responsible for five deaths and over $220 million in damages across Michigan.

The biggest severe weather event for the U.P. occurred during the early morning hours of April 10. A severe thunderstorm developed east of Iron River and raced northeastward towards Marquette producing large hail up to golf ball size and wind gusts approaching 90 mph. Thousands of trees were blown down from Republic through Ishpeming and Negaunee. In addition, several structures sustained roof damage and many powerlines were blown down.

Unlike 2016, when a record six tornadoes were confirmed across the U.P., there were no tornadoes confirmed in the region in 2017. Despite some very close calls, there were fortunately no serious severe weather-related injuries across the U.P. last year.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, residents are encouraged to review severe weather safety procedures. Plan ahead. Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do when severe weather threatens.

Meteorologists from the NWS in Marquette will soon visit several counties in the Upper Peninsula to provide storm spotter training.

“The presentations are a great way for residents to be significantly involved in the weather warning process by relaying important, potentially lifesaving, weather information to the National Weather Service during times of active weather,” said Matt Zika, NWS warning coordination meteorologist in Marquette.

A session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at Bay College West, Room 231, in Iron Mountain.

A schedule of all Skywarn presentations in the Upper Peninsula can be found at The presentations are free and open to all.

“The best time to prepare for severe weather is before it happens,” Zika said. “Being weather ready is a collective effort. It takes the whole community to effectively prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against damages caused by severe weather.”

Additional weather safety information can be found at