The city of Ann Arbor has recently faced a patch of inclement weather that has not only included several tornado warnings but also the aftershocks of a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, which struck Ottawa, Canada on Jun. 23, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said while there was no damage reported on campus as a result of the earthquake and recent string of storms, tornado damage has been reported in the areas surrounding Ann Arbor.
Tornadoes reportedly caused extensive damage on Jun. 6 in Dundee, Jun. 24 between Milan and Saline and Jun. 28 in both Clyde Township — which resulted in the death of one man — and New Boston.
Tornadoes that touch down are tracked on a website — tornadopaths.org — run by the department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science at the University.
Dennis Kahlbaum, University weather observer and staff meteorologist, said there isn’t a connection between the storms and the earthquake because the two types of disasters are caused by entirely different natural processes.
Kahlbaum continued by saying that it was a total coincidence the thunderstorms and the earthquake occurred within the same month. He added that it is also a coincidence that there have been so many tornadoes that have formed out of these thunderstorms.
“The number of tornado warnings in Ann Arbor seems higher than normal. I don’t keep records of that, but such fluctuations are normal,” wrote Perry Samson, a professor in the department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science, in an e-mail interview.
The peak of tornado season is in April, but it can continue throughout the summer, Samson wrote in the e-mail.
Samson went on to write that he believes the University’s Department of Public Safety is doing a good job in alerting students of tornadoes in the area.
These emergency alerts are sent out to University affiliates when they’re in imminent danger. Fitzgerald said threat levels account for why alerts were issued for the recent tornado warnings, but not for the earthquake.
He added that there have been no changes in the emergency alert system in light of the recent occurrences.
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown echoed Fitzgerald’s comments, saying that there are no changes necessary because the alerts are being appropriately sent to students, faculty and staff.
Brown said there is no need at the moment to revise the DPS disaster response because reliable plans are already in place for emergency situations, and the people who are charged with responding to emergencies are prepared to handle the issue.