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A closed airport, whiteout conditions, and arctic air

Almanac 12 February 2014 Click on image for a larger view
Almanac 12 February 2014 Click on image for a larger view
Grand Rapids Weather Examiner

A closed airport, whiteout conditions, and arctic air top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service archives here are the events that happened on February 12.

1899 - Temperatures drop below 0° for the third day in a stretch of 5 for Grand Rapids with a record setting low temperature of -23°. The “high” temperature is only which also sets a record for the coolest high. It’s a similar story in Muskegon as their low temperature is an even colder -29° with a high temperature of -1°. Lansing also establishes a record at -24° and they tie that record in 1967. Lansing observes a daily record for the coolest high with -1°. Detroit observes their coolest high for the day with .

1967 - Temperatures plummet to -24° at Lansing and -16° at Grand Rapids as arctic high pressure moves across Lower Michigan.

1996 - A low pressure system moved northeast out of the northern plains and across Upper Michigan during the day on the 10th. On the evening of the 10th, much colder air moved in behind the low producing lake enhanced snow within 50 miles of Lake Superior. The snow gradually became pure lake-effect around noon on the 11th and heavy snow continued until noon on this day. Snow totals included 18 inches at Herman, 17 inches at Newberry and Champion, 16 inches at Skandia, 15 inches at Marquette and Munising, 12 inches at Houghton and Alberta, and 10 inches at Watton and Ontonagon.

1999 - A low pressure system over eastern Lake Superior drew cold, moist air over western Upper Michigan on northwest winds. The relatively warm waters of western Lake Superior enhanced the snowfall amounts. Twenty-four hour snowfall totals were around 6 inches along the shoreline at Ontonagon and Silver City, but locations 10 to 15 miles inland saw accumulations of 13 inches at Houghton County Airport, 14 inches at Ironwood, and 15 inches at Rockland.

2002 - A low pressure system that passed north of Lake Superior dragged a cold front across Upper Michigan. The northwestern counties of Upper Michigan were the hardest hit. Lake effect snow showers developed as the cold air passed over the relatively warm waters of the lake. In addition to the snow, strong northwest winds in the wake of the front caused frequent whiteout conditions, dropping visibility to near zero in blowing and drifting snow. Schools and businesses were closed and a number of minor traffic accidents were reported due to the poor visibility and snow covered roads. From 3 to 6 or more inches of snow fell, although accurate snowfall measurements were nearly impossible due to the blowing and drifting caused by the high winds. Wind speeds were 30 to 40 knots with gusts as high as 54 knots.

2003 - Arctic air poured into the northwest Great Lakes as a cold front crossed the region. Lake effect snow showers intensified and northwest winds gusting over 30 mph caused considerable blowing and drifting snow in exposed locations over the Keweenaw Peninsula on February 11th and 12th. While only 4 to 5 inches of snow fell, blowing and drifting snow closed highway M-26 between Eagle River and Copper Harbor, and the Houghton County Airport was closed because of near zero visibility in snow and blowing snow. Snowfall totals of 5 to 7 inches were common in Chippewa and Mackinac Counties, while strong winds caused considerable blowing and drifting snow. US-2 in Mackinac County was closed for a time due to the difficult driving conditions. The city of Port Huron received 5 inches of snow due to a passing snowstorm.

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