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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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March 6th, 2013

Michigan's tornado season runs from mid-March into September. Three tornadoes in April 1956 sent more than 200 to hospitals and left an estimated 2000 homeless.


The “Flint Tornado,” the worst in Michigan’s history, was responsible for at least 116 deaths and 914 injuries, on June 8, 1953. “When a funnel whirled down Coldwater Road for a distance of eight miles, over 200 homes were reduced to matchwood and 113 people lost their lives in these minutes of tragedy.

Three tornadoes of April 3, 1956, sent more than 200 to hospitals and left an estimated 2000 homeless. The newspaper reported, “The rip-roaring storm wheeled up the Lake Michigan coastline, blasted inland at Holland, slammed into the Hudsonville, Standale, Allendale areas, swept a strip through northwest Grand Rapids and plowed north to Rockford.” Five of the dead were from an area around Standale, where a trailer park was flattened. Civil defense, National Guard, police and civilian volunteers searched through the night for the survivors, but downed power lines and traffic-choked highways hampered rescue operations.

Michigan’s greatest tornado occurrence was part of the Palm Sunday Outbreak, April 11, 1965, which included 47 twisters in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Kent County was fortunate to escape, but that was largest tornado outbreak on record at the time. It was eclipsed in size by the ‘Super Outbreak’ in April 1974, but fewer were killed or injured that year. Be prepared, Michigan’s tornado season runs from mid-March into September.

Full Details

KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; weather; tornadoes
Pubdate StringMarch 6th, 2013

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