MARQUETTE - The National Weather Service in Negaunee has confirmed a tornado touched down in northwest Marquette County Friday.
NWS Meteorologist Todd Kluber said the tornado was classified as a one on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which helps rate the severity of tornados based on approximate wind speed and damage left behind.
The scale runs from zero to five, with five being the most severe.
A large tree is shown snapped at the base. (Photos courtesy of the National Weather Service)
Kluber was one of three NWS officials who surveyed firsthand the tornado's path across the ground.
"The damage was mostly just confined to several downed trees," Kluber said. "Almost all the large trees in the area were downed or snapped. Pretty much, it was confined to tree damage."
Kluber confirmed the tornado had hit the Rio Tinto's Eagle Mine site. However, he said only a few trees were downed at the site, with most of the damage occurring in forestland west of that area.
The Upper Peninsula averages roughly one tornado per year, Kluber said, adding late spring and early summer is prime tornado time for the U.P.
"Spring time, definitely, to early summer would be the main season you would see tornadoes," Kluber said. "There's enough difference in the temperature and the storm systems are usually stronger and help produce the environment for thunderstorms that can produce tornadoes."
The NWS estimated the tornado traveled as far as eight miles and was as wide as 200 feet, with wind speeds of up to 95 mph. It first touched down at 8:15 p.m. and lasted for about 15 minutes.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.