Devastating Tornado Strikes Williamston and Webberville, Michigan
Updated on 8/25/23 at 4:00pm
A confirmed EF-2 tornado struck Williamston and Webberville, Michigan, on Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Steve Considine, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service's office in White Lake Township, told the Detroit News that based on the type of damage left behind and a "very good circulating wind on radar", officials can confirm the storm was indeed a tornado.
The NWS office out of Grand Rapids issued a Tornado Warning at 9:37pm EDT on August 24, 2023, stating that "confirmed tornado was located near Williamston, or 8 miles west of Fowlerville, moving east at 20 mph."
"Two fatalities occurred in Ingham County - one along I-96 and one in Lansing. Additional injuries occurred in cars and trucks on the expressway," according to a post on the Ingham County Emergency Management Facebook page.
Williamston/Webberville Tornado Damage Reports
Multiple tractor-trailers overturned as a result of the storm on I-96, which crosses Michigan east-to-west and connects Williamston and Webberville. At least two were leaking fuel, prompting emergency management officials to close the interstate both directions between the communities.
Raw video posted to YouTube by Storm Chaser Noah Miller appeared to show an overturned tractor-trailer near the interstate at Exit 122. Several cars were reportedly blown off the interstate as well. The Weather Channel reported that the storm triggered a pileup involving at least 25 vehicles on I-96.
FOX Weather posted a YouTube video showing several scenes of damage in Williamston, and WXYZ-TV Detroit (Channel 7) captured video of Williamston's Haven of Rest Adult Foster Care, which lost part of its roof.
Haven of Rest care provider James Gale was at the facility at the time the storm hit.
"Once I felt that sucking, I just could feel the power of it and I could feel it all shaking. I could feel... the roof shaking and coming apart." - James Gale
In the storm's immediate aftermath, Gale described the damage to one resident's room, noting the missing ceiling and finding the resident covered with debris including insulation and siding. That resident was transported to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. No one else at the nursing home appeared to have been hurt.
Countless reports of downed trees and power lines funneled in from all over Ingham County and other parts of Mid-Michigan as the line of storms that spawned the tornado steamrolled through the southern part of the state. Several roads remain closed throughout the region as cleanup continues.
Williamston/Webberville Tornado Reactions
People who were directly or indirectly affected by the tornado took to social media to describe their experiences and let friends and loved ones know they were okay.
This tornado hit my parents house. Our large oak tree out front fell on the house and another tree hit the side, trees out back smashed the boat, down power lines in the backyard. Damage to the house is unknown but from the inside seems okay so far. My parents are chainsawing trees with the neighbors at the moment. Everyone is okay and were sheltered in the basement.
We drove through the sight (sic) of the earlier tornado between Williamston and Webberville. A swath of trees just snapped off and so many cars/semis flipped, rolled into the ditch, cars all over the place! Both sides of the freeway. The first vehicle we came upon was an F150 with the hood up, windshield smashed, and jammed with grass/branches in the side and tailgate. I can’t even imagine what a ride the occupants had before that thing landed back on the freeway to come to a rest. Absolutely awful to see.
Electricity providers including Consumers Energy, DTE, and Lansing Board of Water & Light reported total power outages in the hundreds of thousands of customers late Thursday night. Crews have been dispatched throughout the region to help restore power to those affected areas.
This post will be updated as new details become available.