Palm Sunday tornados impacted local area in 1920

Osceola County Herald recounts the destruction

On March 28, 1920, a deadly storm system dubbed "The Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak," spawned at least 37 tornados across the Midwest states and some southern states, killing 153 people, including 12 from Michigan, and injuring at least 1,215 of others on the paths of destruction. 
 
By evening of Palm Sunday, Lake and Osceola counties experienced some tornado damage, though not as extensively or deadly as southern parts of the state. This tornado activity is thought to have originated from an F2 tornado confirmed west of Hart to Weare, Oceana County, which began as a waterspout over Lake Michigan. As it moved to shore, it killed a man and destroyed a barn and small home. Three people were injured.
 
Its path in Oceana County touched down for 10 miles and was 100-yards wide. With weather and storm tracking technology hardly in existence in 1920,  this tornado is noted as possibly continuing many more miles into Lake and Osceola counties. 
 
The headline from the Osceola County Herald issue from April 1, 1920, read, "Big Storm Sunday."

"In south and west Michigan points the severe storm, or young cyclone, of Sunday, did considerable damage, the death loss in this state being 12, and the property loss amounting to $2,000,000. In the vicinity of Reed City minor damage was done but apparently nothing very serious."

The article reported, also mentioning William Thiel having his silo blown over north of town, and Boney Weckerman having a big window blown in. 

The article then urged readers to purchase "cyclone insurance." 

"Insurance men of this community do well in warning the people of this vicinity to carry cyclone insurance. Sunday this section escaped the worst of the storm, but another time local people might be hard hit. Readers are asked to read the insurance announcement in this issue of the Herald."

More damage was reported in Lake County, particularly in Nirvana of Cherry Valley Township along U.S. 10 and points north, west toward Ungers, which was near Nelson Road. An article from the Nirvana news column in the Osceola County Herald, April 8, 1920, reported:

"The greater part of the highway between Ungers and Nirvana was impassable after Sunday afternoon's storm caused by trees falling across the road. Some torn up by the roots, others broken off. Andrew and Clarence Loree cleared the road up Monday."  

Also in that column, readers learned of several neighbors coming to the home of George Shinn to help repair his barn, which was badly twisted and had one end crushed in. His property was reported being the worst of any in the vicinity. Sheds, chicken coop, corn cribs were blown over and nearly all boards from a lumber pile were carried across the road to his neighbor's barnyard. 

Another report of storm damage in Nirvana was relayed to readers: 

"Mr. Skornock who lives on a farm north of Nirvana reports a rather strange experience which he had during Sunday's storm. He was in a chicken coop feeding chickens, he felt the building giving away, so he crouched down and the building was picked up and carried away by the wind leaving him uninjured, but badly scared." 

Near Bitely, there also was damage reported in the April 8, 1920 issue of the Osceola County Herald. 

"In the recent wind storm Robet Elliott met with a heavy loss at his farm near Bitely, south of Baldwin. The house, two barns and garage were laid flat. Mrs. Elliott's brother Ed. Chrysler, suffered the loss of two barns, a silo and a portion of his home. The chicken coop and 80 chickens were scattered to the winds, only 16 of the fowl being found after the storm. Mr. Chrysler carried some cyclone insurance, but Mr. Elliott had none." 

Of confirmed tornadoes in the area, an  F2 was reported in Free Soil, Mason County, which briefly touched down, destroying a barn and uproofing a home. Its path was 7 miles long and 150 yards wide. 

Other parts of the state didn't fare as well. An F4 tornado north of Fenton, in Genesee and Oakland counties, created much catastrophe in its 10-mile-long and 200-yard path. This was the third and final F4 reported in the state that day, and carried homes several hundred feet from there foundation, and caused four deaths, including one of the fist automobile/tornado fatalities. 

The Oxford Leader dating April 2, 1920, tells of the deaths. 

"During Sunday night's terrific storm Mrs. Nellie G. Boughner, of Birmingham, was instantly killed, at Fenton, when the automobile she was riding in was blown off the road and turned turtle. Mrs. Brush Nash, of Fenton; Mrs. James Farley and 3-year-old daughter, Vera, of Holly, who had taken refuge in the Nash home, were also killed when the storm struck the house."

Among other confirmed tornadoes in the state included an F3 in Cass County; an F2 in Kalamazoo County; an F2 Southwest of Kalamazoo; an F4 in Barry and Eaton counties causing four deaths and destroying 35 farms in the Maple Grove area; an F3 south of Orangevill to North East of Hastings; and F2 in Shiawassee County; an F2 west of Saginaw; an F2 south east of Lansing; and an F3 south of Miliken to St. Johns, causing one death, as well as damage to the business district of St. Johns. 

A statement in the Clare Sentinel article from April 1, 1920, mentioning some farm damage from the storm, sums up what must have been felt by many in areas not severely impacted by the storm:

"On the whole we escaped lightly as compared with some sections."