Michigan tornado traps workers in buildings and wipes out mobile home park

Severe weather that has devastated Plains states for weeks turned its attention to Michigan on Tuesday, trapping workers and wiping out mobile home parks, officials said.

Portage Mayor Patricia M. Randall said in a statement that the city was hit by two tornadoes on Tuesday, but so far there have been no reports of injuries or deaths.

Kalamazoo County spokeswoman Taylor Koopman said in an email that one of the vortexes tore through the side of a massive FedEx facility, and first responders were hoping to remove live wires blocking a safe exit. It said in an email that 50 workers were trapped.

“The FedEx building in Portage sustained significant damage but is still operational,” she said.

People tour a damaged FedEx facility in Portage, Michigan, on Tuesday.Provided by Jim Morrison

Koopman said the tornado destroyed an entire home at the Pavilion Estates mobile home park in Kalamazoo County. She said rescue teams were on the ground searching for survivors and people in need of temporary shelter set up at the Portage Senior Center.

Residents were urged to remain in place until first responders resolved the situation.

“We have multiple sites across the county with significant damage,” Koopman said. “There have been several reports of power outages, downed power lines, and debris on the roads. Please stay off the roads if possible.”

More than 32,000 Michigan utility customers lost power Tuesday night, according to Utility Tracker. PowerOutage.us.

Images of a barbershop in a strip mall in Portage showed the front ripped open, exposing the interior.

“Due to downed power lines and trees, and the potential for gas leaks, we are asking residents to stay home so emergency responders can reach those in need,” Randall said.

The National Weather Service issued an unusual tornado emergency statement Tuesday afternoon for the area southwest of Portage, including Union City.

National Weather Service meteorologists reported that one tornado was detected Tuesday night, even though they traditionally wait until the next day to send trained personnel to a potential tornado area to confirm. The possibility of one or two other tornadoes was almost confirmed.

The severe weather since mid-April is the result of a wave of cold low pressure moving east from the Pacific Northwest and colliding with warmer weather in states near the Gulf Coast. The collision of air is creating unstable weather conditions that are prone to tornadoes, flooding, and hail.

There were 19 tornadoes reported in at least seven states on Monday.

The National Weather Service said severe weather, including possible thunderstorms and flash flooding, is expected in many of the same areas over the next few days.

An estimated 53 million people from northeast Texas to Virginia will be in the severe storm danger zone on Thursday.

Portage is approximately 140 miles west of Detroit.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/michigan-tornadoes-trap-workers-building-mobile-home-park-rcna151178 Michigan tornado traps workers in buildings and wipes out mobile home park

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