Remembering the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak

47 Tornadoes Across Several States
Posted at 8:12 AM, Apr 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-10 08:12:06-04

WEST MICHIGAN - While we inch our way closer and closer through Spring, Palm Sunday marks a sad day in weather history that occurred back in 1965. It was on April 11 and 12 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 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 slammed and destroyed 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 the narthex. See image below.

Swan Inn, Six Mile and Alpine, Comstock Park

The attached historical photo to this story 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 herefrom a link to a National Weather Service site that will provide many more details and storm surveys about this outbreak. You can also find more here with eyewitness accounts and local photos (great photos here).

Just a footnote…remember that Palm Sunday 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 April 10.

We have several chances this week at seeing some rain and thunderstorms. While we currently are not in a severe threat or SPC outlook, that may change, so stay up on later forecasts. Get the complete West Michigan forecast at