XIII. A Personal Account of the Kalamazoo Tragedy

Richard Gross, an auto glass installer for Kelly Radiator and Auto Glass, 219 N. Westnedge, was working when the tornado destroyed the building. From his bed in Bronson hospital, Richard said he would listen to warnings “a heckuva lot sooner” if he were ever involved in a tornado situation again. Richard recalled, “First I was going to outrun it, but I decided to stay inside and take cover. I hid under a water filled tank and hung on.” Richard sustained a severe laceration to his left arm that was bleeding profusely when a co-worker, Roger Smith, dug him out from the rubble. Richard, a father of four, said he had learned his lesson about how important it is to take tornado warnings seriously. “It’s a miracle we didn’t suffer any fatalities there, just a miracle”, he said.

  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

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