KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — This year marks the 43rd anniversary of the Kalamazoo tornado.

The F3 twister struck shortly after 4 p.m. and was on the ground for at least 22 minutes, moving west to east along an 11-mile path.

There were five deaths and 79 injuries (not including the injured who treated themselves). The deaths were the first caused by a tornado in Kalamazoo County since August 1939. Damage totaled over $50 million (in 1980 dollars).

The tornado first touched down in far western Kalamazoo County (before that, there was wind damage from the storm was reported in eastern Van Buren County) and moved east right through downtown Kalamazoo.

1980 kalamazoo tornado map_336170

Huge trees were uprooted in Bronson Park and windows were blown out of downtown buildings, including the ISB Building — now the Comerica Building. Here’s a couple of eyewitness accounts

Here’s a map of the tornado path:

Kalamazoo tornado path_1557732443001.jpg.jpg
Map of the path of the Kalamazoo Tornado of May 13, 1980

Here’s video of the tornado approaching downtown Kalamazoo and video of the damage right after the tornado

An initial report counted 47 homes destroyed with another 216 heavily damaged; 116 businesses were heavily damaged.

“A rowboat was found five blocks from where it was parked,” WOOD TV8 reported at the time. “There were reports of 2-by-4s being driven into cement walls.”

You can see more firsthand stories of the tornado here and more photos here.

A file image shows damage left behind by the 1980 Kalamazoo tornado (via NWS).
1980 Kalamazoo Tornado_87784
A file image of the destruction left behind by the May 13, 1980, tornado.
Tornado look-alike.

Final note: The picture above as taken from one of our Kalamazoo cameras. It looks like a large tornado, but it’s really steam rising up to meet a layer of low clouds.