It was time for lunch. I was born and raised in Tecumseh, MI, and, like many, the coming of spring was very welcome. The building was at the intersection of Alpine Avenue and 6 Mile Road. There was much to do that day. A total of 44 people were killed along the 80 mile path and it was difficult to tell which tornado did what damage or claimed which victims.
We barely got into the basement when the house rose up off its foundation. It was only seconds from the kitchen to the well pit and we realized later that we were in the middle of the tornado at that time. The hangar doors closed with a thud and seemed easier this time as my muscles were warmed up. At that moment, it woke my husband and he ran to the kitchen, yelling for me to get to the basement. As bad as that storm was, communities further south in Ohio saw even worse.
We sat in the well pit for about 20 minutes until a neighbor appeared.
The brief warming that preceded the tornadoes was the result of strong southerly winds in advance of a strong low pressure center. The next statement from Grand Rapids at PM expressed how the threat had evolved.
Wiping oil off airplane bottoms was one of my jobs between complete washings. I waved goodbye as the blue and green over white bird lifted off in her factory paint scheme, never brighter as I had just washed her the day before. My husband, who had saved our lives with his quick actions, suddenly felt faint.
This cold and snowy pattern in March is similar to other years that saw big April tornado outbreaks in Michigan. The squall line began to intensify as it moved east and word was received that the storms had brought tornadoes to Illinois. The weather map at 7 PM on April 11, shows the low pressure center over Wisconsin and a warm front north of Grand Rapids. Stories of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes. The Michigan forecast offices, including Grand Rapids, were aware of the destruction that had already occurred further west, and began issuing weather bulletins describing the progress of the thunderstorms they were watching on radar:.
One of the injured would die days later, raising the death toll to six.
After these two tornadoes ended the focus shifted to Ohio, where the northern suburbs of Toledo were visited by a powerful tornado that destroyed entire blocks with many houses levelled to the ground. I kept wondering if it would come back. April 11, started out to be a beautiful day.
I was 15 and loved to volunteer time at Meyers airport, one mile North of Tecumseh, doing odd jobs in exchange for flying lessons. Even worse destruction and loss of life was concentrated further south, where two powerful tornadoes tracked from the Indiana border across Branch County all the way to Washtenaw County, within a mile or so of each other and less than an hour apart.
The sky divers, most from the Detroit area with Harold Lange as owner of the club, were taking advantage of the good early spring flying weather. A line of powerful thunderstorms formed over Iowa during the afternoon then moved into Wisconsin and Illinois. The total death toll was 18 for the tornado. A series of deadly tornadoes struck one after another from Lima in western Ohio to Strongsville, southwest of Cleveland, killing more than 40 people. He affirmed that so I got busy pushing those huge steel hanger doors open to expose sunlight on the Eastern-facing birds.
Suddenly, it was very dark outside and there was a terrible noise! They taxied away and, as the wind sock was limp from lack of wind, Al elected to warm up and take off from the South end of the foot strip. The storms continued east, crossed Lake Michigan and moved from Illinois into Indiana.
After inserting the red painted pull bar into the nose wheel, I pulled as Al pushed on a wing strut until the plane was on the tarmac, turning it so the prop wash would not blast the hangar at engine start. After gassing their plane, I noticed Al Meyers and Nadia pull into our gravel parking lot. Temperatures will remain warm and humid through Thursday before cooler and more comfortable temperatures arrive. The six of us huddled in the well pit, soaking wet.
Later my husband was relaxing on the living room couch and the children and I were in the kitchen making caramel apples. Pilots told me it really made a difference in air-speed. This was their third year of jumping at Meyers field and they were anxious to get a few in today.
Photo courtesy of Lee Nelson. I froze! By the little bags they were carrying, it looked like they were planning a trip in their Cessna on this day. My husband kept calling my name over and over, pushing me towards the well pit. With a two year old in my arms and, holding the hand of another, I headed for the well pit of the basement.
The weather maps of April 10 th and 11 th show a low tracking from the Central Plains into southern Lower Michigan. Five people were killed and over injured. My father passed away in at the age of 95, still living in the same house. But Al elected to use the pavement, then taxied toward me and the hanger. By 6 pm, two more tornado forecasts were issued, covering the northern half of Indiana and Ohio and the southern half of Lower Michigan.
Indiana was their destination, perhaps Garrett, a town to which they had taken me in the same airplane the year before. That grass strip as well as the East-West strip kept me busy for years mowing and filling holes made by ground hogs, fox and any of night animals. Three feet of snow fell in March at Grand Rapids, making it the snowiest on record. The 35 mile-long damage path curved to the north of Comstock Park and followed the path of the April 3, tornado to the west side of Rockford.
Inandvery cold weather prevailed into April, followed by a sudden warming. Vehicles were tossed through the air, including a bus that was lifted and dropped upside down by the tornado, killing five people. Storms will become possible late this afternoon and evening, and some of the storms could become strong to severe. The storms along the squall line moved east and brought tornadoes to Kalamazoo, Allegan and Ottawa Counties.
Then the tornadoes came through, soon followed by more cold weather.
All that was left was a cold wind blowing through areas of devastation filled with shattered lives, farms, businesses and neighborhoods. Another tornado, probably from the same storm, hit Montcalm and Gratiot Counties, heavily damaging several farms. One tornado moved northeast of Kalamazoo and injured 17 people. I can still see the gap between the house and the ground. The spring of was cold and stormy. They gained five mph with a clean belly vs. One of the guests was fatally injured.
Continental coughed to life. It seemed the sun was back-lighting the atmosphere with an inversion of eerie-ness. I was thankful the bowling alley across the street had a small diner. Weather Bureau issued a tornado forecast at 1 pm for northern Illinois and parts of adjacent Iowa and Wisconsin. The hp. After midnight, when it was finally over, nearly 50 tornadoes had killed more than people in six states. They turned easily onto base and then final at four hundred feet, flaps extended forty degrees as the wind was light.
My father went to the basement and when he came back upstairs and looked outside noticed lots of debris floating in the lake. A severe storm intensified as it moved towards Allendale, where a tornado began its 35 mile ram.
People that had been hit by the first tornado had to take cover to avoid the second. That plane was a work horse and I knew it could take a bouncy landing but that was not in the offing. In Allegan County a tornado killed one person in Burnips. It was a man I never met formally, but I was never so glad to see anyone in my life, because it meant that it was safe to get out and move about.
I held my mouth so tight I chipped my front tooth. Photo credit: Walter L. The Allendale to Cedar Springs Tornado.
I watched the Cessna until it was out of sight, heading southwest. Headlines in the Hastings Banner describing the tornado that struck Barry County. My husband was behind me, holding the other two. On the evening of April 11, a tornado struck Barry County, passing northwest of Hastings. It rained very hard and the sky was an ugly yellow. The Brewer home on Samrick Avenue after the tornado. The temperature hit zero degrees on March 27 th and ten degrees on April 3 rd. A map of the tracks of the tornadoes that struck on April for an interactive map showing damage pictures and locations from the tornado in northern Kent County Michigan.
Several of the thunderstorms spawned tornadoes, including one that killed three people in southern Wisconsin. There was no mention of tornadoes in this statement. The red stars show the locations of tornadoes. I was facing the plowed corn field to the South and the hazy sky seemed even more washed out than is normal for April. Swan Inn Demolished. My family spent most of the day outside.