An intense rotating column of wind that extends from the base of a severe thunderstorm to the ground.

  • If a tornado doesn’t reach the ground it’s not a tornado-it’s a funnel cloud.
  • Most tornadoes happen within two hours of 6 p.m.
  • Michigan has an average of 18 tornadoes a year.


Southern lower Michigan has been designated as Wind Zone IV by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That is the same zone as Oklahoma and other “tornado alley” states. FEMA recommends that structures in this zone be designed to withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour (equal to an EF5 tornado). About 92% of the city is currently covered by tornado sirens.


The city has three mobile home parks, none of which have the ability to adequately shelter all of their residents. Tornado shelters are an eligible project under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance program.

About 92% of Lansing residents are currently covered by warning sirens. One of the city’s four mobile home parks is outside the coverage area. Relocation and replacement of sirens to improve coverage is underway, but progress is slow since mitigation funding for sirens is limited. Early warning, along with public education, is the most powerful tool in mitigating the effects of tornadoes.