50 Years: Palm Sunday tornado outbreak

Posted at 12:19 PM, Apr 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-11 12:19:46-04

WEST MICHIGAN — Saturday April 11, 2015 marks the 50 year anniversary of the infamous Palm Sunday tornado outbreak across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. It actually occurred over a two-day period on the 11 and 12. There were a total of 47 twisters that swept across Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa killing 271 people and injuring 1500.

17 of the 47 tornadoes were considered violent F4 in strength and the outbreak remains among the most intense in terms of number, strength, width, path, and length of tornadoes ever recorded. Note the image attached to this story is an actual photo of the double/twin tornado vortices that ripped through Elkhart, Indiana in Midway Trailer Park killing 14 and injuring scores more.

Here in West Michigan five deaths and 34 homes were destroyed and nearly 200 others damaged in/near Comstock Park and Alpine Township. Nearly 150 were injured and damage amounts were estimated at almost $15 million. This tornado was an F4 and was the longest path of the West Michigan tornadoes at  more than 20 miles long. In fact, the National Weather Service is holding a comemorative panel discussion along with the Alpine Township Historical Society and trying to obtain photos, film, and eyewitness accounts and documentation regarding this particular tornado. It happens at Kenowa Hills High School at the performing arts auditorium Saturday April 11, 2015 at 7:00 PM and is free and open to the public.

Allegan and Barry Counties recorded an F1 tornado with one death, and a trailer along with five homes destroyed while 25 others were damaged. Hastings in Barry County also recorded an F3 where 15 homes were damaged and barns and garages were leveled. Kalamazoo logged an F3 tornado with four homes destroyed and 22 others damaged. 17 people were injured.

The National Weather Service has quite the comprehensive analysis of this event, including photos, eyewitness accounts, and meteorological data and maps. Click here to see all of it!

We should also note that Severe Weather Awareness Week begins April 12. Click here to familiarize yourself with “what to do during a weather emergency.” Make sure your NOAA weather radio is working and always keep an eye to the sky and news outlets during times of possible severe weather.

For more current weather and analysis click over to for todays forecast.