COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Today is the 48th anniversary of the deadly Palm Sunday tornadoes that struck hard in the Midwest, including Branch County, where 19 people died and more than 200 injuries were reported on April 11th, 1965. The unique intensity of the weather system that day began to take shape around here in the northwest corner of Steuben County, near the community of Orland. An intense tornado formed and quickly crossed the border into Michigan. It struck the village of East Gilead squarely, and then continued on to destroy homes along the shore of Coldwater Lake, filling the water with debris. When it reached the opposite shore of the lake, a second tornado formed just five miles to the southwest near Kinderhook.
The two tornadoes took off together in the same direction along the same path, so that anybody hit by the first twister would get hit by the second one several minutes later. By the time the first tornado passed south of Hillsdale, its companion funnel was about thirty minutes behind it. The duo roared across the countryside producing F4 damage in a swath over a mile wide. There were a total of 30 deaths in Branch, Steuben and Hillsdale Counties and overall, 104 people were killed by the twisters that day in the Tri-State area.