X. So what exactly happened? Chronology of events occurring between 3:30 and 4:25 p.m. EDT across Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch at 1:30 p.m., which went into effect at 2:30 p.m. and was to remain in effect until 8:30 p.m. A severe thunderstorm with hail up to one inch in diameter was reported in the South Haven area of Van Buren county at 3:30 p.m. and a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Van Buren and Allegan counties at 3:35 p.m. This event was followed by the touchdown of a tornado about four miles west of Glendale, in Van Buren County, at approximately 3:40 p.m. The tornado’s path was eight miles long and was approximately 650 yards wide. Although no people were killed in Van Buren County, twenty people were injured and there was seven million dollar’s worth of property damage. Twenty-four homes were destroyed and another 85 underwent varying degrees of damage. Twelve mobile homes were destroyed and another six were damaged. The Glendale Baptist Church near Paw Paw was destroyed.

The thunderstorm was moving across eastern Van Buren county to the east northeast at about 40 m.p.h. before it began to turn to the right and move in an east southeasterly direction near the Kalamazoo county line. At 3:50 p.m. a funnel cloud was reported 14 miles west of the city of Kalamazoo. At 4 p.m., the Kalamazoo tornado touched down seven miles west of downtown Kalamazoo, at which time a tornado warning was issued and the civil defense sirens were activated in the city (Kottke). Its path was about eleven miles long and 100 yards wide. Five people were killed, 79 were injured, and total damage was estimated at 50 million dollars (in 1980 currency).

Tornado track through Van Buren County

Tornado track through Kalamazoo County

  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
Return to The May 13, 1980 Kalamazoo Tornado Case Study Main Page

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.