How to Report Severe Weather

Ways to Report Severe Weather

The National Weather Service in Gaylord values severe weather reports. There are many ways to contact us.

Online Report Form



Toll-Free Phone


1-800-MI-STORM (647-8676)
Please use only for reports

What to Report:

Weather Events

The National Weather Service would like to know about any of the following events. Reports should provide as much detail as possible to describe the event (where, when, what size, etc).

Any tornado


Organized, persistent, and sustained rotation


Organized, persistent, and sustained rotation


Report the largest size hailstone. We like to know about all hail, even the small stuff.


Specify wind gust estimate or measurement. Damage generally occurs from winds of 60 mph or greater.


Flooding that impacts roads, homes or businesses


Damage to structures (roof, siding, windows, etc)
Damage to vehicles (from hail or wind)
Trees or large limbs down
Power/telephone poles or lines down
Damage to farm equipment, machinery, etc

Commonly Used Hail Sizes

Pea .25 inch Golf Ball 1.75 inch
Half-inch .50 inch Hen Egg 2.00 inch
Dime .75 inch Tennis Ball 2.50 inch
Nickel .88 inch Baseball 2.75 inch
Quarter 1.00 inch Tea Cup 3.00 inch
Half Dollar 1.25 inch Grapefruit 4.00 inch
Ping Pong Ball 1.50 inch Softball 4.50 inch

 General Guidelines for Estimating Wind Speeds

Winds are notoriously difficult to estimate. If you have a measured wind gust, give us that. If not, below is a table you can use to estimate the strongest wind gusts based on any damage that occurs.

30-44 mph (26-39 kt) Whole trees in motion. Inconvenient walking into the wind. Light-weight loose objects (e.g., lawn furniture) tossed or toppled.
45-57 mph (39-49 kt) Large trees bend; small limbs break and larger weak branches may break. Old structures (sheds, barns) may sustain minor damage (roof, doors).
58-74 mph (50-64 kt) Large limbs break; shallow rooted trees pushed over. Semi-trucks overturned. Shingles removed from houses; damage to chimneys/antennas.
75-89 mph (65-77 kt) Widespread damage to trees with large limbs down or trees broken/uprooted. Mobile homes may be off foundation or overturned.
90+ mph (78+ kt) Many large trees broken/uprooted. Mobile homes damaged. Roofs partially peeled off homes/buildings. Moving automobiles pushed off the road.


What we Need:

Your severe weather report should be detailed but concise. We like to use the TEL method (Time, Event, Location).

  • TIME: When did this event occur? Is it occurring now, or did it take place earlier? Estimate to the best of your ability.
  • EVENT: What type of severe weather event did you see? This could be a combination of different things, such as damaging winds and large hail at the same time.
  • LOCATION: Where did you see the event? Report the location to the best of your ability. This could be a reference to a town (i.e. 2 miles north of Gaylord), GPS coordinates, or even a mile marker on the Interstate. Be sure to distinguish between an event occurring where you are versus one that you are seeing off in the distance (for example: I am in downtown Traverse City, but I see a waterspout approximately 2 miles out on Grand Traverse Bay).

Any other details that are important - How long did it last? Direction of travel? Was there damage?

Weather spotters provide an invaluable service to their communities and to the National Weather Service. Spotter reports help your community by assisting local public safety officials in making critical decisions to protect lives – when to sound sirens, activate safety plans, etc. Spotter reports also help the NWS in the warning process. Your report becomes part of the warning decision making process, and is combined with radar data and other information and used by NWS forecasters to decide whether or not to:

  • Issue a new warning
  • Cancel an existing warning
  • Continue a warning
  • Issue a warning for the next county
  • Change the warning type (from severe thunderstorm to tornado, for example)

For your reports to be the most useful, they should be as detailed, accurate and timely as possible. Thank you for your reports!


Online Report Form



Toll-Free Phone


1-800-MI-STORM (647-8676)
Please use only for reports

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