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50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:30 pm
by Schteinkuh
"COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WZZM) -- April 11, 1965 is remembered as one of the worst tornado outbreaks in Michigan history. 53 people were killed and hundreds hurt when a dozen tornadoes touched down across the state, including Kent County.

Like so many early April days in West Michigan, the morning of Sunday, April 11, 1965 was cool and quiet; the morning observations taken by the Grand Rapids office of the U.S. Weather Bureau reported several hours of fog. Only the day before, a strengthening low-pressure system in the Plains was heading towards the Great Lakes region.

Early on that Palm Sunday morning, a squall line of thunderstorms was forming across Wisconsin and Iowa, ahead of a cold front. The storms began intensifying and racing eastward by the early afternoon. Back in the 1960s, severe weather bulletins were only sent to the local Weather Bureau offices and the word tornado was not used until tornadoes were actually reported. This severe weather forecast was issued 15 minutes after the first tornadoes touched down in Iowa.

The U.S. Weather Bureau in Dubuque issued the first statement confirming a tornado at 1:10 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2:10 p.m. in Grand Rapids.

In Ottawa County, a severe storm intensified as it moved towards Allendale, where an EF-4 tornado began its 35-mile path of death and destruction. It started south of Marne then inflicted heavy damage in Kent County to Alpine Township, Comstock Park, and Rockford and ended near Cedar Springs. Five people were killed and over 100 injured. One of the injured would die days later, raising the death toll to six.

Another EF-2 tornado, probably from the same storm, hit Montcalm and Gratiot Counties and heavily damaged several farms.

After the storms moved on, the Grand Rapids Weather Bureau issued a somber statement: "Many tornadoes reported. Most damage was in Comstock Park and other areas just to the northwest of Grand Rapids and at Burnips, 20 miles southwest of Grand Rapids. Present available information is that six to eight people were killed and approximately 200 hospitalized."


While searching through photos of the wreckage and EF4 twister itself, I found this photo

Image

Can anybody find where this photo may have been taken? Would it have been somewhere along the GTW?

Also, can anyone here recall how the railroads responded to this incident?

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:01 pm
by MRC_Andrew
That picture was taken along what was then still the New York Central main, between Goshen and Dunlap, Indiana. Look around on the web, there's quite a bit of info about that pic, including an interview with the newspaper photographer who took it.

EDIT: Here's a link http://www.elkharttruth.com/living/Trut ... story.html

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:04 pm
by MQT1223
One tornado of any size is bad enough, imagine seeing TWO in the same area! Scary stuff.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:19 pm
by Saturnalia
NWS map online does confirm that the one around GR here went right over where our house is now. Centerline (playing connect the dots, there is a margin of error in the real thing) is but 100 yard from our foundation. Only two trees on our wooded property older than this storm. Both big oaks which clearly have been through some storm punishment!

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:09 am
by MQT1223
I don't think many people realize that in the 50's and 60's there were several massive tormadoes that hit this side of the state. Kalamazoo took a direct hit in downtown, Hudsonville and Standale were leveled, the Palm Sunday tornadoes and a few more. All very powerful storms. Nothing on those levels has hit the state since. Only a couple little ones, the EF1 last year, an EF3 in Dexter and a few other small ones. Had a good one in the Fenton and Holly area not too long ago. For a long time Flint had the last tornado to kill 100+ people until Joplin in 2011. Where could I view this map MQT? Does it show other tornado paths from years past?

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:34 am
by jimnorthwood
Here is the website I consult for all things tornadic: http://www.tornadoproject.com/index.html

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:44 am
by Saturnalia
Towards the bottom of this page is and interactive map. Not the one I cited earlier, but still pretty close.

http://www.weather.gov/iwx/1965_palmsunday_50

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:04 pm
by MQT1223
AMTK55 wrote:
"COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WZZM) -- April 11, 1965 is remembered as one of the worst tornado outbreaks in Michigan history. 53 people were killed and hundreds hurt when a dozen tornadoes touched down across the state, including Kent County.

Like so many early April days in West Michigan, the morning of Sunday, April 11, 1965 was cool and quiet; the morning observations taken by the Grand Rapids office of the U.S. Weather Bureau reported several hours of fog. Only the day before, a strengthening low-pressure system in the Plains was heading towards the Great Lakes region.

Early on that Palm Sunday morning, a squall line of thunderstorms was forming across Wisconsin and Iowa, ahead of a cold front. The storms began intensifying and racing eastward by the early afternoon. Back in the 1960s, severe weather bulletins were only sent to the local Weather Bureau offices and the word tornado was not used until tornadoes were actually reported. This severe weather forecast was issued 15 minutes after the first tornadoes touched down in Iowa.

The U.S. Weather Bureau in Dubuque issued the first statement confirming a tornado at 1:10 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2:10 p.m. in Grand Rapids.

In Ottawa County, a severe storm intensified as it moved towards Allendale, where an EF-4 tornado began its 35-mile path of death and destruction. It started south of Marne then inflicted heavy damage in Kent County to Alpine Township, Comstock Park, and Rockford and ended near Cedar Springs. Five people were killed and over 100 injured. One of the injured would die days later, raising the death toll to six.

Another EF-2 tornado, probably from the same storm, hit Montcalm and Gratiot Counties and heavily damaged several farms.

After the storms moved on, the Grand Rapids Weather Bureau issued a somber statement: "Many tornadoes reported. Most damage was in Comstock Park and other areas just to the northwest of Grand Rapids and at Burnips, 20 miles southwest of Grand Rapids. Present available information is that six to eight people were killed and approximately 200 hospitalized."


While searching through photos of the wreckage and EF4 twister itself, I found this photo

Image

Can anybody find where this photo may have been taken? Would it have been somewhere along the GTW?

Also, can anyone here recall how the railroads responded to this incident?


It would be cool to have a today photo from close to this very spot.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:05 pm
by MQT1223
AMTK55 wrote:
"COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WZZM) -- April 11, 1965 is remembered as one of the worst tornado outbreaks in Michigan history. 53 people were killed and hundreds hurt when a dozen tornadoes touched down across the state, including Kent County.

Like so many early April days in West Michigan, the morning of Sunday, April 11, 1965 was cool and quiet; the morning observations taken by the Grand Rapids office of the U.S. Weather Bureau reported several hours of fog. Only the day before, a strengthening low-pressure system in the Plains was heading towards the Great Lakes region.

Early on that Palm Sunday morning, a squall line of thunderstorms was forming across Wisconsin and Iowa, ahead of a cold front. The storms began intensifying and racing eastward by the early afternoon. Back in the 1960s, severe weather bulletins were only sent to the local Weather Bureau offices and the word tornado was not used until tornadoes were actually reported. This severe weather forecast was issued 15 minutes after the first tornadoes touched down in Iowa.

The U.S. Weather Bureau in Dubuque issued the first statement confirming a tornado at 1:10 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2:10 p.m. in Grand Rapids.

In Ottawa County, a severe storm intensified as it moved towards Allendale, where an EF-4 tornado began its 35-mile path of death and destruction. It started south of Marne then inflicted heavy damage in Kent County to Alpine Township, Comstock Park, and Rockford and ended near Cedar Springs. Five people were killed and over 100 injured. One of the injured would die days later, raising the death toll to six.

Another EF-2 tornado, probably from the same storm, hit Montcalm and Gratiot Counties and heavily damaged several farms.

After the storms moved on, the Grand Rapids Weather Bureau issued a somber statement: "Many tornadoes reported. Most damage was in Comstock Park and other areas just to the northwest of Grand Rapids and at Burnips, 20 miles southwest of Grand Rapids. Present available information is that six to eight people were killed and approximately 200 hospitalized."


While searching through photos of the wreckage and EF4 twister itself, I found this photo

Image

Can anybody find where this photo may have been taken? Would it have been somewhere along the GTW?

Also, can anyone here recall how the railroads responded to this incident?


It would be cool to have a today photo from close to this very spot.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:58 am
by PerRock
My co-worker has written two books on the tornadoes, I'll see if he recognizes the spot.

We ran a story about them this last week, you can read it here:
http://www.lenconnect.com/article/20150 ... /150419835

peter

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:53 am
by MQT1223
Not that its related to the Palm Sunday outbreak, but another outbreak in 1953 produced the second and last EF5 twister in Michigan History. Leveled Hudsonville and Standale. I have been looking at the big twisters of the past, and it amazes me what towns have been hit and what hasn't. But it also makes sense why some towns like Rockford don't have much of a historical district downtown. Rockford sustained a DIRECT HIT in 1965 from the same EF4 that went through MQT's property.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:15 am
by Saturnalia
Yeah, pretty sure the F5 pretty much leveled where my dad's house is, too! And if not hit, came close to mom's in Standale.

I live in West Michigan's tornado alley :lol:

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:37 am
by MQT1223
MQT3001 wrote:Yeah, pretty sure the F5 pretty much leveled where my dad's house is, too! And if not hit, came close to mom's in Standale.

I live in West Michigan's tornado alley :lol:


Well if you look at the one database where the F5 went its amazing that everything recovered as well as it did. It was the only F5 spawned in that outbreak. Pictures of the devistation from that would be cool.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:31 pm
by Doktor No
PM1223, Rockford downtown WAS NOT HIT in 65. The tornado crossed 10 Mile at Wolven and went northeast, NOT CONTACTING DOWNTOWN ROCKFORD at all. Up along Summit, across 12 Mile and 13 Mile then crossed Northland up near Porter Hollow. Crossed M57, Stout, Myers Lake and ended up at Pine Lake. There is a Facebook page.
The tornado that hit Hudsonville was in 1956 and skirted the northside of town. It went across the then C&O tracks just a bit west of the west end of the passing siding going northeast north of the town proper. It did crush Standale and on into Comstock Park and then went northeast AGAIN crossing 10 Mile just east of WOlven. When you see the radio tower on the north side of 10 Mile and notice that there is just a basement THATS WHY. The 56 storm got it. The 65 storm took the antenna down.
I have Osteno's book and CD on the 56 storm and I did go to the Kenowa Hills 50th Anniversery confab on the 11th. I have the book and CD from the Alpine Historical Society. You should have went and learned something about both series of storms. Then you would know where they went and didn't go.
I remember the 65 storm. Watched the whole thing unfold as only a 11 year old could. Made a huge dent in my mindset about storms....I watch radar and the SPC website and really really enjoy watching things come together. Bucket list? Yeah go to Kansas and watch em happen. YouTube ahs some great video's of the Illinois storms from early this month too. Some of those people are CRAZY NUTS! Get kinda close but that would be a RUSH to do...right up till you get whacked.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:48 pm
by Raildudes dad
I remember being 6 years old in 1956 standing with my 6 months pregnant mother in the driveway near Fuller and Leonard watching the storm go from SW to NE. Dad was in Pittsburgh on business. No rain but a very ugly yellow /green sky.

In 1965, the siren went off and everyone left the evening church service at East Leonard CRC to head for home. Rain and ugly dark gray / green sky.

Both unforgettable events.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:35 pm
by MQT1223
KittyLitter wrote:PM1223, Rockford downtown WAS NOT HIT in 65. The tornado crossed 10 Mile at Wolven and went northeast, NOT CONTACTING DOWNTOWN ROCKFORD at all. Up along Summit, across 12 Mile and 13 Mile then crossed Northland up near Porter Hollow. Crossed M57, Stout, Myers Lake and ended up at Pine Lake. There is a Facebook page.
The tornado that hit Hudsonville was in 1956 and skirted the northside of town. It went across the then C&O tracks just a bit west of the west end of the passing siding going northeast north of the town proper. It did crush Standale and on into Comstock Park and then went northeast AGAIN crossing 10 Mile just east of WOlven. When you see the radio tower on the north side of 10 Mile and notice that there is just a basement THATS WHY. The 56 storm got it. The 65 storm took the antenna down.
I have Osteno's book and CD on the 56 storm and I did go to the Kenowa Hills 50th Anniversery confab on the 11th. I have the book and CD from the Alpine Historical Society. You should have went and learned something about both series of storms. Then you would know where they went and didn't go.
I remember the 65 storm. Watched the whole thing unfold as only a 11 year old could. Made a huge dent in my mindset about storms....I watch radar and the SPC website and really really enjoy watching things come together. Bucket list? Yeah go to Kansas and watch em happen. YouTube ahs some great video's of the Illinois storms from early this month too. Some of those people are CRAZY NUTS! Get kinda close but that would be a RUSH to do...right up till you get whacked.


I was only going off of what the map said, so obviously the data is wrong because it showed the path going through downtown Rockford.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:48 am
by Schteinkuh
I live less than a mile from the 10 mile and Wolverine intersection in Rockford. Crazy.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:50 am
by Doktor No
Not 10 Mile and Wolverine, 10 MILE and WOLVEN. First traffic light east of Meijers.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:56 pm
by Schteinkuh
KittyLitter wrote:Not 10 Mile and Wolverine, 10 MILE and WOLVEN. First traffic light east of Meijers.

That explains the wrecked old barn that just got burned down recently.

Re: 50th Anniversary of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:42 pm
by J T
AMTK55 wrote:I live less than a mile from the 10 mile and Wolverine intersection in Rockford. Crazy.

No way. That IS crazy!

:wink: