Kalamazoo Tornado May 13, 1980

May 13th, 2014 at 1:22 am by under Entertainment, News, Weather

kalamazoo tornado woodtvkalamazoo tornado twokalamazoo tornado map   Click on the images to enlarge – Thirty-four years ago today, an F3 (158-206 mph) tornado cut an 11-mile path from eastern Van Buren right through downtown Kalamazoo. In 20 minutes, the storm left 5 dead and 79 injured. Damage totaled 50 million dollars (that’s 1980 dollars). Three hundred homes and 150 businesses were severely damaged or destroyed.  There was significant damage to Gilmore’s Dept. Store and dozens of trees were toppled in Bronson Park.  Here’s lots of information on the twister. More info here. and here. Here’s more pictures, and here’s a map of the tornado’s path. Here’s a slide show from YouTube. Here’s a first-hand account of the storm.  Please feel free to share a comment or a link to your pictures of the tornado or its aftermath.

11 Responses to “Kalamazoo Tornado May 13, 1980”

  1. Bob So. of Fennville says:

    we were fairly new to Holland. 1976 I watched it on the news. All the damage to Gilmore’s store and much of the downtown mall. I also remember going through a blizzard two weekends in a row. My wife took off to work in Zeeland at 6 am. She came right back. I can’t see to drive! I looked out and WOW! The radio listed her’s and a bunch of factories closed for today.
    We also took the kids to the state park and people were climbing and sledding on the huge ice hills. I may still have the slides I took.

    Bill it was good to see you Saturday in the parade. Bob

  2. Kevin. w says:

    Southeast ridge building toward the end of next week and a storm track crossing the Canadian border may bring rounds of severe weather over memorial weekend. With the cooler weather to our north and the heat and humidity surging north there may be a boundary for rounds of stormy weather. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 20 degree temperature difference across the front. Here’s the Euro, the GEM is similiar as wells as the JMA, interesting weather toward next week.

    http://old.ecmwf.int/products/forecasts/d/charts/medium/deterministic/msl_uv850_z500!Geopotential%20500%20hPa%20and%20Temperature%20at%20850%20hPa!240!North%20America!pop!od!oper!public_plots!2014051300!!/

  3. Travis (Oakland County) says:

    A humid 72 degrees this morning.

    +2.3 for May now. Low temperature here yesterday was a balmy 64 degrees. That has to be close to a record high minimum temperature.

    CPC showing a significant warming trend for next week after our short-lived cool spell. If this pans out, I could have my second consecutive above average month.

    El Nino update: Weekly-averaged sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific have reached the threshold needed for an El Niño event to be declared. Now we just have to wait. Odds are now >65% chance we see El Nino by summer.

    1. Brian(Grandville) says:

      After several months of below average temps in a row, an above average month was expected eventually. No surprise there. Nothing ever stays the same.

    2. Kevin. w says:

      Euro is on the crazy side as other models show more of a moderate one. My thinking is that a fast west to east jet across the north cutting off the polar air and keeping temperatures from getting really bitter cold. The southern track will be active which is usually the case during El Nino’s and that is why the NOAA has put the southern and southeast in an above normal precip. area for the winter. Will see.

      1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

        Tom Skilling, Chicago:

        “Medium range computer models hint at significant warming next week with 70s back on the scene by early next week and more summer-like temps a possibility in the 1 to 2 week range.”

        Paul Douglas, Minneapolis:

        “Spring comes bouncing back next week with 70s, even a few 80s and scattered T-storms. Will it hold for Memorial Day?”

  4. INDY says:

    50′s the rest of the week kind of how summer going to roll few nice warm days then a cold front blows over temps below normal for a few days not really looking for a hot summer this year!! Can’t ever remember this munch rain in May instead of all the snow last month we are getting are April showers now!! We are about 3 weeks behind a normal Spring and it shows with all the trees and flowers again what a winter we had what a cool summer on the way!!!! INDYY!!

  5. John Farrer says:

    My wife was down at the corner of Michigan Ave. and she had a bus load of kids because at that time she was a driver for Kalamaqzoo County Headstart. I was on portage street getting a part for my dads truck when it hit.

  6. Jim in Delton says:

    The Kalamazoo tornado was my first official chase. We made it to Drake Road before a tree fell in front of our car, but we saw the tornado cross 131.

  7. Jean in Grand Haven says:

    I enjoyed the “lots of information on the twister” link. A lot of it was over my head, but a part that jumped out at me (cut/paste from: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/grr/science/19800513/09.php):

    “It is important to dispel the notion that we need high temperature and dew point values and tremendous instability in addition to speed and directional shear in order to generate a significant tornado. Although this would be the ideal supercell and tornado environment, in reality, in Michigan, this does not happen all that often. In fact, our Significant Tornado Climatology for Lower Michigan indicated that the majority of F3 or stronger tornadoes in southern Lower Michigan developed in environments with surface temperatures only in the 50’s and 60’s.”

    I was a trained spotter in the early 2000s and have been an enthusiastic weather watcher since – and I always believed all the big tornadoes required the high temp and dew point values. I’m sure I’m not alone!

    Thanks for all of the amazing information you put on your blog!

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