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How did the tornado move through Gaylord? Officials answer

Early estimates from the National Weather Service show the tornado formed west of Gaylord, moving at about 55 miles per hour for about 25 minutes.

GAYLORD, Mich. — Flipped cars and damaged businesses line Main Street in Gaylord after Friday afternoon's deadly tornado. Michigan State Police say first responders are wrapping up their secondary sweep of the area and are entering the stabilization and recovery phase. 

"At 3:38 p.m. the National Weather Service upgraded to tornado warning, then at 3:48 p.m., the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Otsego County," Michigan State Police Lt. Derrick Carroll says.

Early estimates from the National Weather Service show the tornado formed west of Gaylord, moving at about 55 miles per hour for about 25 minutes.

"That's fairly long, most tornadoes are just on the ground for a few minutes, so this is unusual," John Boris, NWS Meteorologist, says. "The atmosphere did support a significant potential for tornadoes. Given the atmosphere we had yesterday, it was not surprising, but for here it was unusual."

The tornado touched down first at Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park, where the two fatalities were located, according to Michigan State Police. 

"Out of the mobile home park, there is probably 95 percent destruction in there," Otsego County Fire Chief Chris Martin says. "There's trailers picked up and thrown on top of each other, and a large debris field from the trailers."

Once the tornado travelled east on M-32, it left a path of destruction in its wake on Main Street, then moved north through residential neighborhoods.

"They lost their homes yesterday," Gaylord Police Chief Frank Claeys. "It's rough. We're a small community. I was watching our first responders and I was involved in it too. We were searching for places where we knew the occupants, calling them out by name to see if they're in their homes. It’s a lot more personal when the officers know who lives on the homes and they're trying to check on them."

The National Weather Service says a tornado here is rare, and it's estimated that it only took about three minutes to get through town. 

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