Tornado Hits Michigan Without Warning, Killing Toddler, While Twister in Maryland Injures Five

June 6, 2024
Tornado Hits Michigan Without Warning, Killing Toddler, While Twister in Maryland Injures Five
A fallen tree lays near a home on Hubbard Street after a tornado struck the area in Livonia, Mich., Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Robin Buckson/Detroit News via AP)

LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) — A toddler was killed and his mother was injured when a tornado struck suburban Detroit without warning, while five people were injured when a tornado in Maryland collapsed structures and trapped people inside.

Officials in Livonia, Michigan, said the tornado tore through several neighborhoods on Wednesday afternoon and developed so quickly that there was no advance notice from the National Weather Service or others that would have normally led to the activation of warning sirens.

The storm uprooted a massive tree that fell on one family’s house and came through the roof, landing on a bed where a woman and her 2-year-old were sleeping, officials said in a post on the city’s website. Crews worked for nearly an hour to remove the roof and parts of the tree and then lift the tree to get the victims out.

The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. The mother was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

A 2-week-old sibling who was in a crib in a separate room was not injured but taken to a hospital for an evaluation, Livonia Fire Department Chief Robert Jennison told WDIV-TV.

“This is a terrible tragedy for our community,” Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan said in the statement. “Our hearts are broken, too, and we send our deepest sympathies.”

The weather service in Detroit confirmed on the social platform X that an EF1 tornado with a peak wind speed of 95 mph (153 kph) moved through Livonia. The agency said the twister traveled a path spanning over 5 miles (8 kilometers), uprooting trees and damaging some homes.

A representative from the weather service called it a spin-up storm that didn’t show up on their radars in enough time to issue a warning, according to city officials.

It has been a grim spring for tornadoes in the U.S., where severe weather killed at least 24 people during the Memorial Day holiday weekend alone. April had the second-highest number of tornadoes on record in the country. The storms come as climate change contributes in general to the severity of storms around the world.

Tornado warnings were issued for parts of several other states on Wednesday night, including Ohio, New Jersey and Delaware. In New Hampshire’s Seacoast area, storms took down trees and caused power outages.

In Maryland, emergency workers responded to reports that people were trapped inside structures that collapsed after a tornado hit Wednesday night. In Gaithersburg, there were reports of three collapsed structures with people trapped inside, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Pete Piringer said. The most significant damage occurred when a large tree fell on a house, injuring five people who were taken to hospitals, including one with traumatic injuries, he said. No serious injuries were reported at the other structures.

“We got incredibly lucky in Montgomery County, with two different tornadoes coming during the peak of rush hour, evening rush hour, and people home, having dinner in their homes,” Earl Stoddard, director of the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, said at a briefing on Thursday morning. “We were just very fortunate that the damage in Montgomery County was not substantially worse.”

The focus on Thursday is on cleaning up and opening up the roads that are still closed and helping families whose homes were more severely damaged, Stoddard said.

Local television footage showed large downed trees that damaged houses when they fell.

There were nine different areas with possible tornadic damage in Maryland that crews will survey, looking at whether there was one tornado that skipped along or different tornadoes, according to Kevin Rodriguez, lead meteorologist at the weather service office in Sterling, Virginia. The office issued 22 tornado warnings Wednesday, the fourth most issued in a single day by the office that covers much of Maryland, the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and the eastern West Virginia panhandle, Rodriguez said.

In West Virginia’s Berkeley and Jefferson counties, there were images of what were probably tornadoes on the ground, Rodriguez said. Based on video, he said they can confirm four Maryland tornadoes, two in Montgomery County from Poolesville to Gaithersburg and east of Olney, one in the Arbutus area of Baltimore County and another near Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster. Those areas still have to be surveyed over the next few days to see how strong they were.

“For early June it’s especially rare to get this many tornadoes,” Rodriguez said. “This was pretty prolific for early June.”

In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, fires at two homes on opposite ends of the city were believed to have been started by lightning strikes that happened within 15 minutes of each other, Fire Chief William McQuillen said. Both homes were damaged and one was considered uninhabitable. No injuries were reported.

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