Shiawassee County, Michigan

Shiawassee County, Michigan


Shiawassee County's
Tornado of the Century

One of the worst tornadoes occured in Owosso at 11:11 pm on 11-11-11. Click here for more pictures. A young couple died and several buildings destroyed, church steeples blown off and many trees and wires down.

The following is an account of damaging Tornado activity in Shiawassee County through the years.

Since 1950, there have been over 20 tornadoes confirmed in Shiawassee County with no fatalities since 1911. There have been 15 injuries reported, with 8 of those occurring on 8/19/78 and 3 occurring on 6/2/71.

Tornadoes in Shiawassee County have occurred at various times throughout the day. The following tornado list includes the date and the approximate times that they occurred:

(see F scale below for severity)

Aug. 15, 1951 3:30 PM

May 12, 1956 5:15 PM - 1 injured - F1

Sept. 21, 1957 4:00 PM - F2

April 11, 1965 8:39 PM - F4

April 17, 1967 12:18 AM -F2

June 2, 1971 3:12 PM -F1

Aug. 1, 1972 6:45 PM -F1

June 3, 1973 4:30 PM -F0

Aug. 29, 1975 7:40 PM -F2

April 21, 1976 3:35 PM 1 Injured - F2

April 21, 1976 4:30 PM -F1

April 2, 1977 4:45 PM 1 injured -F1

Aug. 19, 1978 5:40 AM 8 injured -F2

June 10, 1984 3:43 PM -F1

Aug. 30, 1984 5:10 AM -F1

April 28, 1986 4:08 PM -F2

Nov. 27, 1989 6:45 PM -F1

Aug. 17, 1991 6:15 PM -F0

Aug. 17, 1991 7:15 AM -F0

Aug. 17, 1991 7:15 AM -F1

Aug. 17, 1991 7:25 AM -F0

Fujita Tornado Scale:

F0 - Gale Tornado (42-72 mph)

F1 - Moderate Tornado (73-112 mph)

F2 - Significant Tornado (113-157 mph)

F3 - Severe Tornado (158-206 mph)

F4 - Devastating Tornado (207-260 mph)

F5 - Incredible Tornado (261-318 mph)


The strongest tornado in Shiawassee County occurred on April 11, 1965. This tornado was categorized as an F4 (out of 5) on the Fujita scale. The tornado moved from near DeWitt in Clinton County to near Bennington in Shiawassee County. Though no one was killed or injured in Shiawassee County as a result of this tornado, one death and 8 injuries resulted in Clinton County. Damage was estimated at between $50,000 and $500,000, with a total of 8 houses destroyed in the tornado's path. This tornado was part of the Palm Sunday outbreak which resulted in 256 deaths and over 1500 injuries across Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan. All other tornadoes in Shiawassee County since 1950 have been categorized as either F0, F1, or F2.

8 persons were injured in a short-lived tornado that occurred early in the morning on 8/19/78. This tornado occurred just west of Perry, travelling about 2 miles. The tornado was an F2, with some mobile homes being destroyed. In addition, though only categorized as an F1, the tornado on 6/2/71 resulted in 3 injuries in Shiawassee County as it skipped along a path that extended from near Owosso to just southeast of Flint. Damage was reported to a school, 5 houses, and 2 barns along the tornado's path.

Finally, one of the most damaging tornadoes in Shiawassee County since 1950 occurred on 4/21/76 around 3:35 PM EDT. This tornado, categorized as an F2, destroyed a factory and a house as it moved from 2 miles east of Shaftsburg to 5 miles southwest of Owosso. Damage was estimated at over $500,000. One person was reported to be injured.

Wind Speed  Description

Smoke rises vertically
1-3 MPH
The direction of the wind is shown by smoke but not wind vanes
4-7 MPH
Wind is felt on the face, leaves rustle, wind vanes move
8-12 MPH
Leaves and small twigs are in motion, small flags are extended
13-18 MPH
Dust and loose paper is raised, small branches move 
19-24 MPH
Small leafy trees sway, crested wavelets form on lakes & ponds
25-31 MPH
Large branches are in motion, whistling is heard on power lines
32-38 MPH
Whole trees in motion, inconvenience in walking against wind
39-46 MPH
Twigs break off trees, difficult to walk against the wind
47-54 MPH
Minor structural damage such as chimneys and shingles
55-72 MPH
Damage to chimneys and antennas, shallow rooted trees uprooted
73-113 MPH
Roof surfaces peel, windows break, moving cars pushed off road
113-157 MPH
Roofs, weak buildings, mob. homes destroyed, lg. trees uprooted

[Red indicates severe thunderstorm criteria]

Hail Size Estimation

1/4 inch
Pea size
1/2 inch
Marble size
3/4 inch
Dime size
1 inch
Quarter size
1 3/4 inch
Golf ball size
2 3/4 inch
Baseball size

[Red indicates severe thunderstorm criteria]

1920 Tornado Pictures near Durand and Gaines, Michigan area.

Shiawassee County History