Severe Storms 8/2/15

8/2/15 – This was a day I had been waiting for. Finally, a really good chance of storms in lower Michigan. The computer forecast models all showed convection overspreading the region all day long, and congealing into a big squall line, then sagging south. That is exactly what happened. The day started off quiet in southern lower Michigan, but off to the north, things were already rocking. Strong to severe storms were already pounding the region with intense wind gusts, heavy rain, large hail and lightning. This activity would be what I waited patiently for as it moved down in my direction.

There wasn’t much planning that went into this chase. It was pretty much just pick a spot along the advancing squall line, and hope for the best. I watched the storms for hours, and then I finally took off to the west to intercept a stronger part of the MCS (Mesoscale Convective System). On the way, I was treated to some glimpses of a very nice shelf cloud through the trees. Slow traffic and lack of good views prevented me from capturing photos of the leading edge of the shelf cloud. I was able to get a few shots of the Whale’s Mouth though behind the initial shelf.

After enduring some strong wind gusts with the gust front, I set my sights on the precipitation cores. I got into some small hail but the main story was the wind, heavy rainfall, and lightning. Check out my video of the storm below.

After the storm blew through the area, I decided to go searching for storm damage. My search led me all the way through Sparta, Cedar Springs, Rockford, and Greenville. The worst damage I found was in Greenville, with large trees down, and power lines down. Tree crews were already on the scene, and I started shooting video. They did a very good job of cleaning up! The power was out at the Meijer in Cedar Springs, and there were other scattered outages as well.

This was a once a decade style event for lower Michigan. We just don’t get large persistent squall lines that last all day and blast through the entire state north to south like this. It was such an unusual event in fact, that I wanted to capture the radar loop of this mammoth system, so it could be re-watched over and over again.

This was truly an interesting, and enjoyable day. At least for those of us who didn’t suffer damage. One of the best storms I’ve seen all year in Michigan.

Chuck Russell

I shoot photos and videos of various different types of events related to weather, nature, motorsports, breaking news, and more and share what I capture with the world at

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