On This Date: Two Huge Tornado Outbreaks

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (April 3, 2014) —  The above picture, provided by Myrtle Coats from Hudsonville,  shows a stunning picture of one of the worst tornadoes to ever hit Michigan. This picture was taken on Kelly Street in Hudsonville exactly 58 years ago Thursday.  This tornado was rated a F5 on what was then the Fujita Scale, with wind speeds of over 175 miles per hour. It was the strongest twister of a two-day outbreak that impacted 15 states with 49 tornadoes and killed 40 people.

The following counties in Michigan were hit with tornadoes that day: Allegan, Ottawa, Kent, Montcalm, Van Buren, Barry, Manistee, Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau.  The F5 storm started near Zeeland in the Vriesland community and traveled 48 miles to Trufant between 6:30pm and 7:30pm.  This single storm killed 17 people and injured 340.  Particularly hard-hit was Standale, where many of the businesses downtown were destroyed.  The tornado proceeded to hit Grand Rapids, Comstock Park, and Rockford, before dissipating near Trufant.

A lot of people remember this tornado.  There will be a discussion on the tornadoes at the Grand Rapids Public Library on April 24. For more information, click HERE.

A larger tornado outbreak only affected far Southern Lower Michigan but was a huge outbreak for the rest of the country. On April 3-4, 1974, the “Superoutbreak” resulted in 148 tornadoes in 13 states. The death toll was 315. Parts of Hillsdale County were hit, and two people died there.

Here is a map of the tornado paths from what was once the worst tornado outbreak in U.S. History.  Only an outbreak in 2011 produced more tornadoes and fatalities.


No severe weather is on the way to West Michigan anytime soon, but when it does hit, count on FOX 17 to track the severe weather right into your neighborhood.  For the forecast anytime, visit the weather page at http://www.fox17online.com/weather



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