Dramatic Footage Of The 1980 Kalamazoo Tornado [Video]
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the deadly touchdown of a F3 tornado in downtown Kalamazoo. Here's what it looked like to the residents that fateful day.
Tuesday, May 13, 1980 dawned warm and humid, and as the day progressed, a storm front building to the west began to get the attention of local meteorologists.
At 4pm, the first funnel cloud emerged from the clouds, just west of Kalamazoo. By the time it lifted, after over 11 miles on the ground, including the downtown business district, five people were dead, 79 were injured, and over five million dollars in damage was done.
According to a story archived by the Kalamazoo Public Library, the damage was extensive, and was called 'the worst disaster...ever' by then Mayor Ed Annen:
When the tornado first struck over the relatively open terrain west of Kalamazoo, it caused only minor damage to trees, fences, and power poles. This changed dramatically once the storm entered the city limits. Homes were leveled in the Westwood residential district, and monuments were overturned at Mountain Home Cemetery... The roof of the nine-story ISB Building (today the Comerica Building) was ripped away, and its glass exterior was almost completely destroyed; only a handful of its windows remained intact... Kalamazoo Mayor Edward Annen Jr. commented: “This is the worst disaster our city has ever seen, but we'll come back from this.”
Here is some video footage of the storm from archivist Blake Naftel.
The first is raw footage, taped by employees at a downtown store watching as the tornado forms, and then rushing to shelter when they realize its ferocity.
The second is a short documentary put together about the storm.