Remembering The Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak

GREAT LAKES – While we inch our way closer and closer to Spring, today marks a sad day in weather history 48 years ago!

It was back on April 11 and 12, 1965 when 47 tornadoes ripped through the Midwest, including several parts of Michigan. It is considered one of the top five tornado outbreaks in the United States. 271 people died and another 1500 were injured across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin just to name a few. On the old “fujita” tornado scale, there were 15 F1, 10 F2, 5 F3, and 17 F4 tornadoes.

In the heart of the FOX 17 viewing area, twisters touched down in Ottawa, Kent, Allegan, Barry, Kalamazoo, and Montcalm counties. I recently spoke to many of our parishioners at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Comstock Park. Our church was torn apart by the twister that traveled through Comstock Park and Alpine Township. It hit the church, then headed over to the Swan Inn Motel. Part of the original crucifix that was mounted in the church on that day survived and is still on display. In fact, I saw it at mass today.

The attached historical photo was taken by Paul Huffman (Elkhart, Indiana) of a double twister that tore through the Midway Trailer Park and killed 33 people. As a meteorologist, I could write for hours on this event, but you can get more here from a link to a National Weather Service site that will provide many more details and storm surveys about this outbreak.

Just a footnote…remember that Palm Sunday and Easter dates float. They are NOT the same dates each and every year, so while the dates of this event occurred on April 11, Palm Sunday this year is March 24, 2013.

No severe weather is in our forecast over the next several days, but a moderate warm up is taking shape. Click over to www.fox17online.com/weather for more.

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8 comments

  • Rhonda Austin

    my dad was a fireman and seen all of that. He held children in his arms and dug people out of pure devastation in the dunlap area.I remember listening on the fire/police radio hoping to hear his voice to know he was still alive. I have always been afraid of storms now!

    • Karen

      I also was 4 yrs old, Mom & I joined family & friends at the VFW hall on 44th st in Kentwood, MI. Quite a scary situation not knowing how everything would look once we left the hall…

  • Brinda Host

    That same tornado that took Holy Trinity Church also took the top of the house I now live in and tore down the barn on the same lot. My husband lived their at the time and Now we reside there. I lived 2 miles north of the church. I remember it well, I was 7 years old. It was a very scary day!

  • Bill Stinchcomb

    We lived in Lowell and Dad had taken us out for a Sunday drive , We wound up in Standale. I remember all the destruction and emergency vehicles. It was really crude compared to today because we drove right through the area. Because the radio in the car was broken we had no idea this was going on until we got to Standale

  • Jane

    I remember that day very well too! I lived on Alpine Chuch St. and I was 7 years old, our house was about the only one still standing on our street.