Devastation in Gaylord: A Timeline of the May 2022 Tornado

On Friday, May 20, 2022, an EF-3 tornado touched down in the Gaylord area, killing two and injuring dozens more.

This devastating tornado destroyed homes, businesses and lives and caused multiple gas leaks and left thousands without power.

9&10 News chief meteorologist Tom O’Hare presents a timeline of how this tornado developed.


We talked about the possibility of severe storms on Thursday, May 19. Most of the region was in a Level 2 risk for severe weather.

Thursday Severe Threat

On Friday, May 20, storms over Wisconsin were being watched as temps rose quickly over northern Michigan. The warmth increased the concern for severe weather.  A severe thunderstorm watch was issued at 1:52 p.m.

Severe Watch Friday

It wasn’t long before we started cutting into programming due to severe thunderstorm warnings.

The first few warnings were for strong winds up to 70 miles per hour and/or hail of 1 inch in diameter.

Around 3 p.m., meteorologist Michael Stevens and chief meteorologist Tom O’Hare were focused on one particular storm near Mancelona as winds were looking off.

315 Friday

The storm was already severe when winds started showing rotation. Michael Stevens tracks the storm west of Mancelona.

Michael Stevens continues to track the storm as it moves east of Mancelona.

Friday 330

A tornado warning was issued at 3:38 p.m. This was near Alba, about nine miles West of Gaylord.

We were on air and streaming live on 9&10 Plus moments after the warning was issued. This storm was of high concern due to what we had seen with the wind over the last 30 minutes.

At 3:40 p.m., a tornado warning update was issued noting tornado was on the ground, moving towards Gaylord. The initial warning was for radar indicated but we had a strong feeling one was on the ground. When the update came in, we made it clear on-air the tornado was on the ground and causing damage. In addition ping-pong ball size hail was possible.

The tornado blew through Gaylord around 3:45 p.m.

At 3:46 p.m., another tornado warning update came in noting it was a large and extremely dangerous tornado.

The tornado crosses in front of a driver on M-32 in Gaylord. 

Viewer video from a hotel in Gaylord. 

Gaylord Goodwill Damage 9

The Goodwill store in Gaylord was destroyed as a result of the EF-3 tornado.

9&10 News photojournalist Josh Monroe takes us over Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park. 

Gaylord Damage 12

Two people died in Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park which was 95% destroyed. 

There were reports of multiple gas leaks at residential and business properties.

During this time, we were on the air making sure viewers knew the situation and the tornado was causing considerable damage. Our hyper-local maps allowed us go back and look into where the damage occurred. You can see the bright greens/bright reds left of Gaylord. Those colors right next to each other indicate rotation in the atmosphere.

345 Friday 2

This update shows more white than red/green after just crossing I-75 North of downtown Gaylord. This is a direct correlation of where the tornado hit. Moving so fast, it caused a lot of damage in just a few minutes time.

Friday 345

Friday 350

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declares a state of emergency in Gaylord in the late evening hours of Friday, May 20.

Meteorologist Michael Stevens takes us through the aftermath. 

Meteorologist Madison Ryke provides a preliminary report from the National Weather Service on Saturday, May 21. 

This tornado is unusual for northern Michigan. Most of the time the area deals with EF-0 to EF-2 – weaker tornadoes that aren’t that large.

This was is classified as an EF-3, with estimated max winds of 150 miles per hour, a max width of 200 yards or 1/8 mile, and was on the ground for more than 16 miles. It caused the majority of the damage around Gaylord. This is the first tornado for the Gaylord area. The last notable event there was in 1998 when straight line winds of 100mph hit the area.

As a state, the last EF-3 to hit the state was in 2012 near Dexter and before that was 2007 in Eaton County near Potterville.

Northern Michigan RV suffered tremendous damage as a result of the EF-3 tornado.

We stayed on air and on 9&10 Plus until the tornado warning ended at 4:20 p.m. near Montmorency County. A tornado warning was then issued for Presque Isle County at 4:36 p.m.

Gaylord Goodwill Damage 10

Windows were blown out of this Little Caesars in Gaylord.

The Doppler 9&10 Weather Team continued to report live until shortly after 5 p.m. as it went over Lake Huron.

The tornado was part of one supercell that cruised across the state at about 55 miles per hour. Large hail was noted several times with this cell – as large as baseball size in Posen.

Categories: Gaylord Tornado, Weather