Nightly News   |  March 16, 2012

Michigan tornadoes flatten neighborhoods

More than 100 homes were damaged but nobody was killed or injured. The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> been a record-setting week for weather, as we've been reporting here, but last night when word arrived of tornados as far north as michigan in the month of march it went from weird to dangerous in a hurry. weather channel meteorologist mike seidel with us tonight from dexter, michigan . mike, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. in situations like this, post tornado, we often see debris everywhere. we often notice the oddities. take a look at this second floor bedroom closet and there are clothes and shirts still on the hangers. in a matter of seconds yesterday, this neighborhood was transformed by the twister.

>> you hear the siren.

>> reporter: the tornados came quickly. sweeping across southeast lower michigan .

>> it looks like it's coming right at us.

>> reporter: this was caught on camera as it approached dexter shortly after 5:30 p.m .

>> looked like it was going to clear up. all of a sudden it came down.

>> reporter: houses destroyed, businesses flattened. all in an instant.

>> i don't think it was 40 seconds and it was over.

>> reporter: many left homeless. some wandered the neighborhood trying to figure out what to do next.

>> find a place to sleep. get a new house at some point. do whatever you've got to do.

>> reporter: severe thunderstorms hit the area. accompanied by large hail and driving rain. today, people have begun to count the cost. more than 100 homes damaged. some taken right down to their foundations, but amazingly, no one was killed or injured. warning sirens likely made all the difference.

>> wedding album.

>> reporter: wendy martin ran inside with her children soon as she heard the alert. she looked out into the yard where the swingset once stood.

>> when i saw it go by, i hunkered down with my kids. i covered them up. they were screaming.

>> reporter: john missed the storm by 15 minutes . his security camera caught the moment of impact. as cleanup continues, folks here are grateful that this destructive storm didn't cause more harm.

>> amazing that over 100 houses damaged and there is no death toll. not even an injury count.

>> reporter: the storm was rated an ef-3 on the fujita scale with winds as high as 145 miles per hour. this is the earliest the entire state of michigan has seen a tornado this strong on ronde going back to 1950 . one of the reasons is you have to have warm moist air. usually we don't see that air this far north in march, but we did yesterday. temperatures in the upper 70s in nearby detroit. take a look at the jet stream . this is why it's been so warm for the past week. in fact, over the past week we set 1,800 new record highs. a big ridge involves the eastern 2/3 of the country. we've never seen anything like this last so long, record across all the states. again today more records. chicago, notable third day in a row they broke 80. for the first time an astronomical winter. winter continues until tuesday. bismark broke 80 degrees. we don't see any end in sight right now. until the middle of next week, we can call these the dog days of march.

>> unbelievable situation. so thankful no loss of life or serious injuries. mike seidel in michigan tonight.