A tornado touched down in Gaylord during a thunderstorm Friday afternoon, injuring dozens, killing at least one and leaving its residents stunned.
The tornado touched down at 3:45 pm and was much longer than the area would expect. It traveled several miles over the course of several minutes, said Jim Keysor, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. It started southwest of Gaylord and moved northeast, but the exact length and path haven’t been determined yet.
“For northern Michigan, it will likely be a fairly long, damaged path,” Keysor said. “(It wouldn’t be long if you) were in tornado alley in the plains, but for northern Michigan where we don’t receive very many tornadoes, it’s a fairly long path.”
It ripped through both residential and commercial areas. The Michigan State Police issued at 7 p.m. curfew.
Ambulances are transporting injured people to local hospitals, although the exact number is unknown.
At Gaylord-Otsego Memorial Hospital, there were 23 injured people, and one person who was killed by the tornado, state police confirmed.
For residents who need help, MSP said a shelter is being established at E-Free Church in Gaylord located at 1649 E. M-32, and the Red Cross will be there as well.
The extent of the damage is unknown, but it appears widespread.
The roof of the Hobby Lobby was ripped off, and the town is eerily empty. Traffic lights stopped working and emergency vehicles are the only ones around.
Gaylord residents were walking around stunned.
MSP said everyone should avoid the Gaylord area — trees and power lines are blocking roads, multiple businesses and homes have been damaged and emergency crews are responding.
The weather service is examining the area and reviewing the damage.
Govt. Gretchen Whitmer said in a tweet her heart goes out to the families and businesses that have been hurt by the tornado.
“To the entire Gaylord community—Michigan is with you,” she said. “We will do what it takes to rebuild.”
Thousands in the Gaylord area have lost power, according to the Consumers Energy outage map.
The tornado came in the midst of a thunderstorm with warnings for high wind gusts and large hail.
This is a developing story.
Contact Emma Stein: email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @_emmastein.