Hudsonville-Standale Tornado Anniversary

April 3rd, 2014 at 12:01 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

hudsonville tornado  Today, April 3rd, 2014, is the anniversary of the strongest tornado ever to hit the state of Michigan. The strongest wind on the surface of Earth in 1956 was on Van Buren Street in Hudsonville, Michigan on April 3, 1956. There were 17 fatalities (13 in Hudsonville) and 340 were injured. Take a moment and watch this YouTube film, pictures and map of the twister and this color film of the deadly storm. The tornado was rated F5, one of 59 F5 and EF5 tornadoes in the U.S. since 1950.  There has been one in Canada.  The tornado path was at least 48 miles continuous from Vriesland to Trufant in Montcalm Co. The twister was as wide as four football fields at one point!  The first of four significant tornadoes that day came onshore off Lake Michigan at Saugatuck  and destroyed the lighthouse there.  That was an F4 tornado!  It dissipated east of Holland with the Hudsonville-Standale tornado forming shortly thereafter, more than likely from the same parent storm.  Another tornado struck near Bangor and stayed on the ground for 55 miles before lifting near Alto in SE Kent Co.  That tornado injured twelve.  Another tornado killed two in Benzie Co.  Click here for more links to learn about other tornadoes in Michigan that day and the weather situation that produced them. Ernie Ostuno of the GRR NWS wrote a fantastic book on the event which you can order here (a great gift for someone interested in tornadoes, storms or weather).  Here’s the Flicker Pictures that a commentator linked to.   Today is also the anniversary of the Super Outbreak of Tornadoes in 1974.     Here’s the article that NWS Meteorologist Ernie Ostuno wrote about the storms.  Film of the damage.  More film here.    Click on the image to enlarge.  This thread has been moved up from last year.  New comments in 2014 start with #135.

141 Responses to “Hudsonville-Standale Tornado Anniversary”

  1. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    I did not live in GR in 1956. And I do not remember my mom or dad saying anything about it. But were I now live the storm was less then 2 miles away and when we were looking at houses. We looked at one on Bristol and the person that was selling the house (for sale by owner) stated that the house was built in 1957 on the same site as the old house. I asked him what happen to the old house. He looked at me and said the was destroyed by the storm in 1956. He said that his wife had several broken bones but came out OK. I did not ask him anymore questions. (we did not buy the house)
    While I did not know or hear anything about the storm here I did hear a lot about the Flint storm of 1953 ever year and even in the 1960’s any time there was a storm warning the Flint radio stations took it seriously
    Its strange that Michigan has had two powerful F5 tornadoes in the mid 1950’s and none since. But that is a good thing but one has to remember it has happened before and it very well could happen again! So never take a tornado warning lightly.

    1. Judi I says:

      Not sure which direction of Bristol you were writing about, if it was in Alpine, there were several houses rebuilt after that tornado and after 1965. My in-laws lived in a house that was rebuilt from the 1965 tornado by Holy Trinity Church and yes, the church was badly hit too.

      1. Ray says:

        The April 3 1956 tornado crossed Bristol N.W. after it destroyed the trailer park near Pannell Rd.

  2. Amy says:

    The color film of the storm is not available. The message on YouTube says: “This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.”

    1. Tom says:

      Amy, do a search in youtube for 1956 tornado. Lots of video on it

  3. Fiz says:

    Bill or Cort S, or anyone that knows more about weather than I do (probably all of you), I have a question. What exactly causes the sky to turn that weird yellow color before a big storm? I remember seeing it only one time in my life, about 15 years ago, and I still remember it vividly to this day.

    I did a search on it but couldn’t come up with anything conclusive.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Cort S. says:

      It probably depends on things like the sun angle (time of day) and the extent of surrounding cloud cover or clear skies. A lower sun angle late in the day will have light which is a little more yellow/orange, as more blue light gets scattered away as sunlight passes through a greater distance of air. If direct sunlight can hit the side or underside of a cloud after passing through a lot of atmosphere, it will make the cloud appear yellow or orange. Or, if there is a layer of overcast cloud cover in the mid-upper levels, it will intercept the beams of yellowish sunlight which would otherwise just pass overhead, but scatter them down to us.

      Another variable may be the size of particles which scatter different colors of light. Air molecules scatter blue light to make the sky look blue. Cloud water droplets scatter all colors of light. Hail might do something funky. If you are underneath a storm cloud which looks a little turquoise, it might be because hailstones in the cloud are scattering green light. But I’m not sure if that theory is proven.

  4. fixxxer says:

    Goodbye wyoming in may. Moving to granville. To hell with godwin and this ghetto area.

    Hey bill you gonna bump this thread every year lol?

    1. michael g (SE GR) says:

      Move. FARTHER.

      1. fixxxer says:

        I wish.

        1. Judi I says:

          Don’t like Bill’s forecast, don’t watch. Instead, spend your time learning to read and write English.

  5. fixxxer says:

    I think the chances of getting another tornado this violent here is about as slim as seeing another heatwave like we had last year.

    1. mr. negative says:

      Agreed…bizarre occurance, once in three or four generations.

      1. fixxxer says:

        If that.

        1. Cort S. says:

          There was an F4 tornado 9 years later that crossed the F5 torndao’s path in Comstock Park.

  6. arcturus says:

    Sums up well how warm it has been:

    ‘For the first time in several years, Southwest Lower Michigan has experienced an unusually cold month.

    March 2013 surpassed the furthest departure from normal of any month since July 2009. In July 2009, Grand Rapids was 5.4 degrees below normal, Lansing was 4.9 degrees below normal and Muskegon was 5.2 degrees below normal. Comparing March 2013 to March of previous years, we have not experienced larger cooler than normal departures since March 2005. At that time, Grand Rapids was 5.7 degree below normal, Lansing was 4.3 degrees below normal and Muskegon was 5.6 degrees below normal.’

    1. fixxxer says:

      According to what i read today the cold weather should be moving out in the next week. We still may end up with an average spring which doesnt say much.

  7. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    I see channel 17 is shooting the gun early on a 70° forecast for next Wednesday while channel 13 is forecasting 53°, and channel 8 is forecasting 49° for that same day. As of right now, it looks like either the 16th or 17th is our best shot to get close to 70°, but then again a few days ago it was forecasting next week to be near/above 60°.

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Fox 17 has an inaccurate warm weather bias. They must be in favor of global warming or the computer models they are using are just plain bad! They kind of remind me of Travis who is always showing some sort of temperature forecast graph that is always wrong!

      1. fixxxer says:

        And ur always right? Do us a favor and move to alaska. Face the facts kid. Warm weather is near. Deal with it or move.

        1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          Every time you and all of your aliases open your trap you just prove your total ignorance. Look up the word ignorance in the dictionary the name fixxxer shows up! Imagine that! Thanks for listening!!

        2. fixxxer says:

          What kinda meds you on? Ive never had any name on here but this one. Go ahead and ask bill kid. Thr truth hurts do t it rocky? See you in november.

        3. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          Speaking of meds you might to change to a much stronger RX. I know a good psychiatrist that I can refer you to!

        4. fixxxer says:

          Rj you much worse than you were last year. Do you have a progressive metal illness? Winternutitis perhaps?

      2. Rodey (Rockford) says:

        Always wrong. Just like your snowstorm predictions. Always wrong.

        1. Jack says:

          Just another PSYCHOTIC Reaction….CUE: ;-) . Lol…;-)

        2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          Nice Jack – 1966 – Keep up the good work!

      3. Rodey (Rockford) says:

        If he looked up ignorance in the dictionary it would show a picture of you. I know your only in middle school but it’s time you grew up a little. Try contributing to the blog instead of repeating the same thing 30 times a day. Nothing wrong with loving cold weather and snow but you constantly repeat the same thing just to get a rise out of people. Sad life you live.

        1. kevin. w says:

          You sure have repeated yourself way over above and beyond all winter and you need to knock it off. AND you should take your bipolar medication and leave fixxer the hell alone. Ya winter is great and so is the warm weather but beating a dead horse to me is a crime. Sorry but just my dam opinion and tired of all the BS and non sense that goes on in this blog and not just from you. The ones that do have respect for others know who they are but the ones that don’t need to go back to elementary school and learn some basic manners. Period!!!

        2. kevin. w says:

          My answer should be toward Rocky (Rockford) not Rodey.

        3. fixxxer says:


          +1000 kevin.

  8. kevin. w says:

    This blog has really become a joke, its really too bad. All the people on here on I used to know have all gone and now I know why.

    1. Brian(Grandville) says:

      Totally agree Kevin

    2. fixxxer says:

      Yeah ive noticed indy comes on less. Same with swatz and charles. I still think rocky is jordan.

  9. big Daddy BC says:

    “There are better than even odds that anthropogenic warming over the next century will lead to an increase in the numbers of very intense hurricanes in some basins—an increase that would be substantially larger in percentage terms than the 2-11% increase in the average storm intensity. This increase in intense storm numbers is projected despite a likely decrease (or little change) in the global numbers of all tropical storms.”

    1. Brian(Grandville) says:

      That’s funny, because meteorologists and experts, which you and I both are not, struggle to predict the weather 5-6 days out, and you want to talk about predicting something 100 years out. LOL.

      1. Cort S. says:

        To be fair, that’s not that correct reason to be skeptical. Weather is like predicting the next outcome of a rolled dice or a flipped coin; climate is all about probabilities and the average outcome of numerous dice rolls or coin flips.

        It would be like saying, we can’t predict whether the next coin flip will be heads or tails, so there’s no way we can have any idea of approximately how many heads or tails we’ll get out of the next 1000 flips.

        1. Brian(Grandville) says:

          I’m gonna stick to my guns on this one. Just because, I don’t think you can just assume that some sort of phenomenon could occur so far out, based on a whim. Just my thoughts.

        2. Cort S. says:

          No sir, that is simply not correct. Climate studies the probabilities of events occurring and trying to predict how those probabilities will change. Climate is NOT in the business predicting, “there will be a bad tornado outbreak on April 4, 2113.” That’s weather prediction, and like you said, we can only do that a week out.

          The idea of climate change is that there are natural and human-caused forcings that add weight to one side or the other side of our metaphorical coin. Now instead of us predicting that there will be 500 heads and 500 tails in the next 1000 flips, we can use information about where the weights are placed and how heavy they are to predict (with mathematical models) that there will be 600 heads and 400 tails. We still cannot predict whether the 100th or 200th or 500th flip will be a head or a tail (that’s weather). But we can try to predict whether certain events (heads or tails) will become more or less likely based information about the weights (that’s climate).

          This is why we cannot blame any single storm on climate change. It’s just like why we can’t say that the weights caused the coin to land on heads in the current coin flip.

          There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about climate change, but “we can’t predict the weather more than a week in advance, so therefore we can’t predict the climate in 100 years” is not one of those reasons. How about you and I mend our differences with a fun trip to the Gun Lake Casino? You can have your belief that the chance of rolling Snake Eyes is unknowable, and I can have my belief that that chances are 1/36. :)

    2. Bill Steffen says:

      From Dr. Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center…this is from the National Hurricane Center website:

      “Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, NO firm conclusion can be made on this point.

      No individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change.

      The recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones has largely been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions.”

      Go to this page:

      It says: “It is premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity.”

      1. big Daddy BC says:

        “According to NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth, it’s critical to recognize that every large-scale weather extreme now operates in an atmosphere that’s been altered by fossil-fuel use. Trenberth, who was among the first to attribute seasonal U.S. weather shifts to El Niño and La Niña, emphasizes the context of increased greenhouse gases, higher temperatures, and enhanced water vapor in which extreme events now play out. He and colleagues have mapped global flows of energy and moisture…”

        Apparently Dr. Chris has a few colleagues that disagree. The dice are loaded, plain and simple.

        1. Bill Steffen says:

          Kevin Trenberth: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

          He’s an alarmist, a climate profiteer and he laments that the data doesn’t support his rabid alarmism!

          A lot of alarmists are becoming skeptics:

        2. big Daddy BC says:

          Look at those great ‘scientific’ sources. LOL You can’t find a credible source so you use blogs and rhetoric. Rabid alarmism? LOL That’s really funny. How about corporate denierism? How about greed driven consumptionism?

          Here’s another credible source for you to try and smear:

          “Antarctica is losing ice mass while gaining ice extent. This is a confusing point to some. There are a few keys that can help us understand what this means in the context of global warming.

          Land ice is different than sea ice. Antarctica is losing ice as illustrated below in the ice mass chart from the GRACE satellite.”

  10. Mindy ( Mason MI ) says:

    I’m with kevin.w, I thought it was just me, same posts over and over!!! NOTHING BUT DRAMA!! They know who they are!!! Oh, they are the ones to tell you to leave Bill’s Blog if they don’t like your opinion!! You can call them…….BILL’s BLOG BULLIES!!!!! I thought this was a Weather Blog??????

    1. Rodey (Rockford) says:

      I’ve said that several times. I brought up that it would be nice if people used some facts instead of hype and was told by Indy that he was sick of hearing the about fact crap and I could leave.

  11. Jerry hoag says:

    You are all so right!! This is a weather blog! Not the Jerry Springer show! Stick to the weather and facts not DRAMA!!

    Warmth is coming, soon!! I can’t wait! Storms too! WAHOOOOOOOO!!

    1. fixxxer says:

      its not always going to be 100% weather talk on here. you guys know that.

  12. Judi I says:

    April 11, 1965 was the Palm Sunday tornado. We moved here in Sept. 1964 and saw the tornado coming down Four Mile Rd. between Walker and Alpine. It was nasty stuff then too.

  13. What are your thoughts on the potential for any decent storms this year? I remember that specific storm last year that had the potential to be huge. It ended up devastating Ohio/Indiana I believe.

    1. Cort S. says:

      You are probably thinking of the June 12 derecho, one of two High Risk days last year:

      Here is a radar loop of that storm:

      As for this year, it’s another roll of the dice. Maybe West Michigan’s number will come up. As far as this spring goes, there are a few things that may tweak our chances of severe weather:
      *Favorable for severe weather… Tendency for sharp temperature contrasts in the middle of the country which leads to a stronger jet stream. Recent tendency for cyclonic wave-breaking of upper-level disturbances, which leads to stronger low-level cyclones. As opposed to the last two years, when there tended to be a lot of anticyclonic wave-breaking, cut-off lows, and weaker systems.
      *Unfavorable for severe weather… Tendency for large-scale upper-level troughing in the Great Lakes region, which keeps temperatures cooler and more storm systems farther south and east.

      1. Thanks Cort. Yes, that is the storm I was thinking of. Watching radar that day, I thought we were going to get hit,and it missed us, at least in Grandville. There were some pretty strong winds and brief downpour, but it passed rather quickly.

        Another storm I was thinking of was the one when we had that rare wind warning. There was a tornado warning issued, I believe…but it was very strange. Literally no thunder or lightning. Storms have always fascinated me ever since I was a little girl. Being 32, I can only recall a handful of SEVERE storms. I could pass on the tornadoes, but I am hoping for some decent action this year. Thanks for all your info :)

  14. Kevin (Marshall) says:

    I vaguely remember listening to WOWO in Fort Wayne the evening of April 3, 1974. The static on the radio was horrible due to all the lightning, and hearing the frequent EBS tones for all the tornado warnings.

  15. Kimoeagle says:

    Forty years ago today (1974), a tornado ripped through the Silver Lake/ Hogback Lake area, just missing KANQ. Today? Steady rain, Bar. 29.89″ and steady – right now, anyway. I’ll take the rain. :-)

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