The May 13, 1980 Kalamazoo Tornado

Five people were killed and 79 were injured when a F3 tornado struck Kalamazoo, Michigan on May 13, 1980. This case study examines large scale synoptic conditions over the United States on May 13th and other data in an attempt to reconstruct the storm environment as accurately as possible. All of this data is tied together with our research findings from developing the Significant Tornado Climatology for Lower Michigan, in an attempt to better understand the environment in which this killer tornado developed.

This case study may be viewed online, or you may download the entire case study in PDF (1.68 Mb) format.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Methodology
  3. Large Scale Synoptic Pattern over the United States on May 13, 1980
  4. Hourly Surface Weather Maps Focused on Great Lakes Region from 12 UTC May 13 to 00 UTC May 14
  5. Observed 12 UTC Soundings for Flint, MI and Peoria, IL and Data Derived from them
  6. Modified Flint Sounding
  7. Flint and Peoria hodographs from 12Z observed soundings
  8. Modified Peoria Hodograph (using 18 UTC surface winds in AZO)
  9. What are our most important significant research findings? What do we believe caused the Kalamazoo tornado? What can we learn from this? How can we use this information to aid in anticipating tornadogenesis in the Grand Rapids CWA?
  10. So what exactly happened? Chronology of events occurring between 3:30 and 4:25 p.m. EDT across Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties.
  11. Tornado Victims
  12. Dr. T. Theodore Fujita’s Kalamazoo Tornado Findings
  13. A Personal Account of the Kalamazoo Tragedy
  14. Bronson Park Devastated
  15. Acknowledgments

Download case study as PDF (1.68 Mb)


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