NWS confirms EF-1 tornado in Livonia that killed 3-year-old

An EF-1 tornado touched down in Livonia around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the National Weather Service in White Lake confirmed. 

The tornado was on the ground for approximately nine minutes and traveled about 5.5 miles, according to the NWS. At its peak, winds reached 95 mph.

As a result of severe conditions, a 3-year-old boy was pronounced dead on scene after a tree uprooted and crashed onto a Livonia home on Houghton Street.

"This was a tough day," said Fire Chief Robert Jennison.

The toddler's mother, who was lying in bed with him at the time, was injured and is in critical condition, according to the fire department. The two were trapped beneath a massive hardwood tree with several trunks.

"The roof had to be removed to get to the tree, to get to the victims," he said. "About a dozen chainsaws and 25 firefighters (had to cut) the tree to pieces… Crews worked tirelessly for over an hour, removing parts of the tree and lifting the tree with high pressure airbags to extricate the victims." 

The mother was conscious throughout most of the extraction process.

Her younger child, a two-week-old baby, was in a crib in a separate room with his grandmother. They were not affected by the tree but were transported to St. Mary's Hospital to be checked.

The winds uprooted dozens of large trees in the area, blocking streets and causing damage to property.

"My husband is in the sunroom, just looking, and I say 'what are you doing? Get in here, it's a tornado!' He said he saw the tree swirling in the air, and it ended up in our backyard," said Deborah Eisel, whose Livonia neighborhood was affected.

No tornado sirens went off. Residents say the intensity came out of nowhere.

"It was a very quick pop-up storm. Talking with the National Weather Service, it was something very unpredictable to determine," said Livonia Police Director Brian Kahn.

The priority now is getting the side streets back open and power back on.

As of 11 p.m., nearly 23,000 DTE customers are without power, while over 1,100 Consumers Energy customers reported power outages.

"We estimate that 95% of impacted customers will be restored by the end of the day on Thursday," according to a statement on DTE's website. "Keep at least 25 feet away from any downed power lines and anything they are in contact with — consider them live and dangerous."

NWS's full preliminary survey summary of the Livonia tornado:

"The tornado touched down just east of the intersection of Schoolcraft Rd and Eckles Rd and traveled northeast into Mason Rd, just north of I-96. The tornado continued into the intersection of Nola Rd and Lyndon Rd, uprooting large trees, snapping off large tree limbs, and producing some damage to residential housing. The tornado then traveled across Newburgh Rd into Levan Rd near the 5 mi intersection, close to the intersection of Ellen Dr. and 5 mi rd, where mainly tree damage was found. The tornado continued to travel northeast into Farmington and 6 mi, uprooting trees around this location. The tornado continued through Rotary Park where large trees and tree limbs were sheared off, and then moved into Beverly Park, where the damage was mainly sporadic downed tree limbs. The tornado lifted just southwest of 7 mi and Middlebelt Rd."

Editors note: a previous version of this story reported a different age of the victim. It's been corrected for accuracy.


Metro Detroit severe weather leaves child dead, collapses gas station

Extreme weather caused severe damage throughout metro Detroit. A suspected low-end EF1 tornado in Livonia was confirmed by the National Weather Service Wednesday evening.