A strong tornado struck the northern Michigan town of Gaylord late Friday afternoon, heavily damaging businesses and killing two people.

At least 44 others were injured as the twister tossed large debris and reduced numerous buildings to rubble, according to the Associated Press.

The once-in-a-generation tornado for northern Lower Michigan was preliminarily rated EF3 with estimated winds of 140 mph by the National Weather Service.

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This image provided by Steven Bischer, shows an upended vehicle following an apparent tornado, Friday, May 20, 2022, in Gaylord, Mich. (Steven Bischer via AP)

This image provided by Steven Bischer, shows an upended vehicle following a tornado, Friday, May 20, 2022, in Gaylord, Michigan.

(Steven Bischer via AP)

The tornado was confirmed to be moving through the town Friday afternoon at about 3:40 p.m. EDT and traveled for approximately 15 minutes.

At least one large building collapsed while several cars were flipped and damaged. An RV and mobile trailer park was also heavily damaged.

The Nottingham mobile home park, among the first sites hit by the tornado, had “95% destruction,” Otsego County Fire Chief Chris Martin said in a press conference Saturday morning.

“There have been trailers picked up and turned over on top of each other. Just a very large debris field,” Martin said. “Crews are in there right now doing a secondary search with heavy equipment.”

More than 25,000 customers across northern Lower Michigan were without power early Friday evening, according to poweroutage.us. More than half of those outages were restored by Saturday morning.

Gaylord is located in Otsego County and is home to about 4,000 residents.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for the county, making further state resources available to the county.

Northern Michigan is not used to tornadoes or severe weather in general. Gaylord’s last major severe weather event was in 1998 when a straight-line wind event produced 100 mph winds in the town.

“We don’t get a whole lot of tornadoes,” John Boris of the National Weather Service said in the Saturday morning briefing. “In the state of Michigan, in general, we typically average about 15 or so (a year) and more of those are downstate than they are up to the north. It’s pretty unusual.”

The last EF3-strength tornado to hit northern Lower Michigan was likely back in the 1990s, but conversions become rough since the enhancement of the Fujita Scale in 2007. The most recent F2 in the area was in 1999, and the most recent F3 was on March 27, 1991.

Portions of this article are from the Associated Press.

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