A representative for Munson Healthcare reported one fatality and 44 injuries. The representative was unable to comment on the seriousness of the injuries.
The injured are being cared for at four different hospitals. Otsego Memorial Hospital has accepted 23 patients, Grayling Hospital has admitted 12, McLaren Northern Michigan Petoskey has admitted eight patients, and Munson Medical Center Traverse City has admitted one patient.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a declaration of emergency for Otsego County on Friday night.
“Michiganders are tough. We are resilient. We will do what it takes to rebuild. There’s no challenge we can’t get through together,” she said on Twitter.
Michigan State Police for the Seventh District confirmed that a tornado touched down in Otsego County.
“Trees and power lines blocking roadways. Multiple homes and businesses damaged,” the agency said on Twitter. “Avoid the Gaylord area. Emergency crews are responding.”
State police said there was “heavy damage” throughout the area.
Residents in Gaylord are asked to shelter in place through 8 a.m. Saturday due to the “ongoing emergency,” state police said.
“My heart goes out to the families and small businesses impacted by the tornado and severe weather in Gaylord,” Whitmer said on Twitter. “To the entire Gaylord community Michigan is with you. We will do what it takes to rebuild.”
A severe thunderstorm watch had been issued for the region through the evening, with the National Weather Service warning that “an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out in the greater area.”
It was a chaotic meteorological transition into spring as March saw the highest number of tornadoes in that month in U.S. history.
At least 218 tornadoes occurred in March, with many of the tornadoes happening toward the end of the month, according to the National Weather Service.