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#TBT May 13, 1980: The Kalamazoo Tornado

The Kalamazoo Public Library has a feature entitled TWISTER! The 1980 Tornado that begins:

On Tuesday, 13 May 1980, a tornado struck the heart of Kalamazoo, Michigan. First touching down at 4 pm eight miles west of the city limits, it rapidly moved eastward through downtown until it dissipated east of the city at 4:25 pm.

Only twenty-five minutes had elapsed, but the devastation left in the tornado’s 11-mile wake was considerable: five people dead, seventy-nine injured, and over fifty million dollars in total property damage. Governor William Milliken, walking through the area only hours later, remarked, “it reminds me of a bombed-out city.”

Here’s a video of the tornado – the first of its kind!

Raw, unedited videotape of the Tuesday, May 13, 1980 Kalamazoo, Michigan tornado. This video was recorded near the intersection of West Main and Westnedge avenue, from the now defunct business known then as The Sound Room. The video was shot using (at the time) a brand-new, state-of-the-art RCA CC006 color video camera, and attendant VHS Selectavision portable VCR. Historically, this is the first known, amateur, color videotape (not film) recording of a deadly tornado in the United States.

Video © Ted Ruble, all rights reserved.