Gaylord, Michigan tornado kills one, causes injuries and widespread damage

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A strong tornado tore through Gaylord, a Michigan city about 2½ hours north of Lansing, on Friday afternoon, causing widespread damage, one death and 23 injuries, according to Michigan State Police.

The twister ripped through Gaylord’s business district, where social media photos showed sheared-off roofs and toppled signs and power lines with debris scattered all around. The Associated Press reported that the event lasted less than five minutes.

An ABC/NBC affiliate in Traverse City showed video of the tornado moving over Interstate 75 in the busiest part of the city. Drone video posted to social media showed mobile homes stacked on one another and wood strewn throughout the street. A photo showed homes knocked off their foundations.

“My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) tweeted. “To the entire Gaylord community — Michigan is with you. We will do what it takes to rebuild.”

The city imposed a 7 p.m. curfew and asked residents to shelter in place.

The twister ripped through Gaylord around 3:45 p.m. Eastern time. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for the area at 3:38 p.m., when the twister was nine miles away. As it moved into Gaylord, the Weather Service warned of a “a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado.” It urged residents to take cover. “This is a PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION,” the warning stated.

Ahead of the storm, the Weather Service had placed much of the northern part of the lower Michigan under a severe thunderstorm watch starting at 1:55 p.m. that cautioned “a tornado or two” was possible.

The tornadic storm erupted along a strong cold front sweeping across the country. The same front caused temperatures in Denver to crash more than 50 degrees in 24 hours. On Thursday afternoon, it was 86 degrees there; Friday afternoon it was 33 degrees and snowing.

Exceptionally warm air swelled ahead of the front, which is poised to break scores of records along the East Coast on Saturday, where temperatures could soar to nearly 100 degrees.

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