One dead, 44 injured in Michigan tornado that tore through homes and businesses

One person has died and 44 others were injured when a tornado struck Northern Michigan on Friday afternoon, authorities said.

Michigan State Police confirmed the fatality Friday evening and said 44 people were taken to multiple hospitals in Northern Michigan. Conditions of the patients were unavailable.

The tornado struck the city of Gaylord, about 230 miles north of Detroit, damaging an unknown number of homes and businesses and felling trees and power lines, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.

At a Friday evening news conference the governor signed a declaration of emergency for Otsego County, which includes Gaylord. “We’ll do whatever it takes to rebuild,” she said.

NBC affiliate WPBN of Traverse City, Michigan, broadcast images of mobile homes flipped and knocked over at a Gaylord trailer park. It also showed footage of buildings ripped apart near theaters known as Gaylord Cinema West.

Power outages in the area prompted Gaylord’s Otsego Memorial Hospital to divert some new patients to other facilities, the station reported.

More than 14,000 customers in Northern Michigan were without power Friday, according to PowerOutage.US, including more than a third of utility users in Gaylord.

The city of Gaylord declared a 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew and asked residents to shelter in place, according to state police.

Whitmer said earlier in the day she would commit the resources to support the rebuilding effort.

“My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord,” she tweeted. “To the entire Gaylord community—Michigan is with you.”

A National Weather Service employee reported seeing a tornado touch down on the west side of Gaylord at 3:53 p.m. National Weather Service meteorologist Rich Pollman said by email the agency had initially confirmed the vortex.

The agency’s process of fully confirming tornadoes usually includes a next-day walkthrough of the impacted area to measure its possible path and damage.

The National Weather Service said a tornado warning remained in effect for the village of Posen, Michigan, near the Lake Huron shore.

The tornado appeared to be the product of unsettled weather as a cold front from the Great Lakes to the Southeast clashed with unusually warm temperatures in the Northeast.

Federal forecasters said severe storms from Lower Michigan to southern Oklahoma and eastern Texas were possible through Saturday.

Janhvi Bhojwani and TJ Swigart contributed.

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