Tornadoes touch down, leaving damage behind from Alabama to Michigan
By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
March 15, 2019, 2:42:06 PM EDT
Tornadoes ripped across four states amid a severe weather outbreak on Thursday, leaving a trail of damage in their wake.
Eighteen tornadoes were reported in total across Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Alabama, as well as 156 wind reports and 67 hail reports, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
Damages, including destroyed houses, toppled trees and downed power lines, have been reported as a result of the storm.
(Photo/Daviess County EMA)
(Chris Colson via Storyful)
(Chris Colson via Storyful)
(Chris Colson via Storyful)
Over 130,000 electric customers lost power from Michigan through Alabama on Thursday afternoon, and those numbers likely rose into the night as severe weather continued across the region.
A state of emergency was declared in McCracken County in western Kentucky after a tornado touched down, according to local news station WPSD.
Only one person was hurt with only minor injuries, according to Kentucky State Police. The injury occurred when a large tree was pushed into a home. Four cows were killed.
Major structural damage occurred to at least a dozen homes, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Paducah in a public statement.
The twister quickly gained strength, reaching EF2 status, and it grew to 300 yards in width west of Lovelaceville, according to the NWS.
Major damage occurred near the intersections of U.S. Route 62 and Highway 286 near Lovelaceville, Kentucky, as a result of the tornado.
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The tornado just missed hitting the NWS forecast office in West Paducah, Kentucky, during the late-morning hours on Thursday.
Paducah Eyewitness Chris Colson, who captured his close encounter with the tornado on camera, told AccuWeather that the rain abruptly stopped and then he was "on top" of the tornado. He said he could feel his truck shaking.
"If you saw what I was, you’re going to take your Ford truck and you’re going to run. And we ran. We got about half a mile down the road and got in the parking lot and rode it out," Colson said.
The tornado took an angular path from the highway and didn’t follow Colson, but it did cause damages to some homes and a church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church sustained major damage, which was full with about 39 kids in daycare at the time of the tornado. The pastor made an official report that none of the children or supervisors were hurt or injured, according to Colson.
The Kentucky Oaks Mall in Paducah was also impacted by the tornado. The mall sustained minor roof damage, and 10 to 12 AC units were damaged or blown away at the mall. Several windows were blown out of vehicles in the mall parking lot, according to NWS.
The mall was closed for the rest of the day, having lost power due to the storms, according to WPSD.
At the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, 14 flights were canceled and 115 were delayed on Thursday, according to FlightAware.com.
Mindy Kershner, a spokeswoman with CVG, said the warning lasted for about 30 minutes at the airport.
"Flights were not taking off or landing and passengers were evacuated to identified safe areas of the airport during the warning," Kershner added.
Tornadoes were also reported in central Alabama and at least one in central Michigan late Thursday afternoon.
A tornado swept through the middle of Michigan, damaging homes and knocking out power to thousands. NWS confirmed that a tornado touched down at 7:03 p.m. local time Thursday in Shiawassee County, Michigan.
A second tornado was later confirmed in Shiawassee County, NWS Detroit shared in a tweet.
The weaker northern tornado snapped tree branches and limbs, as well as detaching the roof of a farm's outbuilding.
Roughly 70 homes and businesses were damaged, but no injuries were immediately reported, Michigan State Police said in a tweet.
"An unusually warm air mass ahead of a strong cold front helped lead to widespread severe thunderstorms, reaching as far north as Michigan," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.
"There was enough rotation in the atmosphere for several thunderstorms to either be tornado warned or produce tornadoes."
Severe weather, including high winds, hail and possible tornadoes, led to storm damages in southern Indiana.
The storms left thousands of power customers without service, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
NWS reports that damage from the storms included the roof ripped off a mobile home in Speedway near Indianapolis.
According to Rathbun, a return to winter weather is expected in the wake of these storms. However, dry conditions are expected.
"The upcoming weather pattern does not support any additional storm systems that could produce widespread severe weather through next week," he said.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church McCracken Co / Paducah, KY sustained major damage from this morning’s tornado. A daycare full of kids took shelter and made it through without injuries. 🙏🏻🙏🏻 #KYW #Paducah #wpsdwx pic.twitter.com/SUbUyZb4LK— Jennifer Rukavina (@JRukavinaWPSD) March 14, 2019
CVG airport shut down briefly for the tornado warning. Everyone had to wait in the tram area and now are making their way back up to the gates. pic.twitter.com/pUYMK2g15h— Hagit Limor (@hlimor) March 14, 2019
Video of the Fenton, Michigan tornado taken around 7 p.m. pic.twitter.com/POPSk0uc9y— Erik Kostrzewa (@FOX17Erik) March 14, 2019
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