Michigan tornado destroyed 13 houses

March 16, 2012 at 3:47 PM
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DEXTER, Mich., March 16 (UPI) -- A tornado that destroyed 13 houses in Dexter, Mich., may have been an F3 with winds of up to 200 mph, a meteorologist said Friday.

The twister was one of three that hit southeastern Michigan on Thursday as a line of severe storms trundled through the area, The Detroit News reported. The Dexter storm, which damaged 100 houses, appears to have been the worst.

"We will have teams going out to look at the damage and label the strength of the tornadoes," said meteorologist Debra Elliott of the National Weather Service. "Right now, based on what we know and have seen on the news, it looks like the Dexter tornado was the strongest. A best guess is that it was an F3, which is a fairly strong tornado for this area and for this time of year."

An F3 on the Fujita scale is considered a severe tornado with wind speeds ranging from 158 to 206. The last F3 recorded in the United States in March was in 1976, Elliott said.

No injuries or deaths were reported in the Dexter area, Washtenaw County Emergency Management Director Marc Breckenridge said.

Officials with the county sheriff's office said 105 homes were significantly damaged and 13 were destroyed by the tornado, WHMI-FM in Howell reported.

WLSN-TV, Lansing, reported at least 50 homes were destroyed.

"I listened to it all come down. I could hear ripping, hitting and falling," Dexter resident Jennifer Lawrence told the Detroit Free Press. "I texted my husband, 'We're getting hit.' "

Dexter schools canceled classes Friday.

Residents of Monroe County in Michigan saw six confirmed funnel clouds touch down in several locations, said Mark Hammond, the director of the county's Emergency Management Division.

In Kentucky, officials said seven people were injured when the roof of a Barbourville business partly collapsed because of heavy rains. Officials in Barboursville, southeast of Lexington, said the drainage system of a manufacturing facility was clogged, causing water to pool on the roof and leading to a partial collapse Thursday, Kentucky Emergency Management spokesman Buddy Rogers told CNN.

Seven people were hurt and three were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Rogers said.

Record-breaking warmth was reported in the Chicago area, with balmy temperatures forecast to continue into next week, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Thursday's high of 81 at the official recording station at O'Hare International Airport broke the previous high of 74, set in 1995.

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