Two tales of eastside Lansing's big storm

'It was just this loud, intense sound coming from outside like something had blown up.'


FRIDAY, July 14 — Clinton Mireles, who lives on South Fairview Avenue on Lansing’s east side, took a chance around midnight Thursday when the storm slowed a bit to run into his backyard to deal with a picnic table that was in a precarious position.

“I heard a loud like a kind of in the distance like an engine or something,” he said. “So, I ran inside. Within maybe 30 seconds of me being inside, my basement window busted open and all I heard was a roar. Like it sounded like a gas meter had just got broken and it was just this loud, intense sound coming from outside like something had blown up.”

When he and his wife and their daughters looked outside, they saw that a large fallen tree had taken a corner of the front porch roof and smashed into their blue Chevy Impala.

Jerry Dembrowski, who lives on Regent Street, walked through his property with City Pulse explaining how a tree fell from the red-tagged property next door, hit his home and rolled off, obliterating his patio.

The damage was mostly isolated to a five-street section from Shepard Street on the west to Fairview on the east and between Michigan Avenue and Kalamazoo Street. Some residents who spoke with City Pulse during a walk-through of the damaged area said they believed a tornado had hit the area. City officials disagreed.

“It was most likely a straight-line-winds event that caused the damage,” said Scott Bean, city spokesperson.

“Straight-line winds are often responsible for most of the wind damage associated with a thunderstorm,” the National Weather Service explained online. “These winds are often confused with tornadoes because of similar damage and wind speeds. However, the strong gusty winds associated with straight-line winds are unlike the rotating winds of a tornado. If you were to survey the damage pattern left by straight-line winds, you would see debris, such as uprooted trees, laid out in nearly parallel rows.”

The Ingham County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management noted in a post early Thursday morning that WLNS had registered a wind gust of 63 mph. At 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, the agency also warned of “torrential rains and potentially strong wind gusts” associated with the storm rolling into the area at the time.

Rob Dale, deputy emergency manager for Ingham County Sheriff’s Department, said in a Facebook message that based on reports from Lansing Board of Water & Light and pictures from the public, the event appeared to be “downburst straight-line winds (which matches up with the rader). The NWS also didn’t have anything they saw that indicated any different.”

Bean and Lansing Mayor Andy Schor spent four hours assessing the damage and talking with affected residents on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Lansing Board of Water & Light and city assets from the public services division were working to remove debris from the roads and repair damaged power lines.  At the peak of the storm and damage, 1,100 BWL customers reported outages.  By Thursday morning, 600 people remained with out power as the utility worked to restore service, said Bean. 


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