A shipwreck, burned resort, the Kalamazoo tornado, and thunderstorms 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 May 13.
1899 - The wood schooner-barge, 3-mast Nelson, while carrying coal; was in tow of steamer A. Folsom, when she broke her towline in a gale, went to pieces and sank offshore in 300 feet of water off Grand Marais, MI in Lake Superior. The vessels had been unable to manage the harbor entrance at Grand Marais, and tugs would not risk the storm to bring them in. The captain was the only survivor out of 8; his wife and child perished along with the crew when the schooner went to the bottom with the yawl and its occupants still in its davits. Floating on the roof of the cabin he came ashore at precisely the same spot that the sole survivor to the sunken steamer Western Reserve had several years before.
1912 - Detroit reported a record for the latest snow accumulating an inch or more. The snow was measured at 1.5 inches.
1930 - Severe thunderstorms produced tornado and downburst damage across eastern Clinton County. Over 30 farms had wind damage and two dozen barns were destroyed. A tornado struck four miles south of St. Johns.
1954 - From May 2nd to the 13th, the temperature averaged 35.8°, the coldest stretch in May records for Marquette which was 1° colder than the same period in 1907.
1980 - Kalamazoo was hit by a tornado that killed five people and injured 79 others. Fifty million dollars damage was done as the tornado damaged or destroyed nearly 300 homes and over 150 businesses. The Grand Rapids National Weather Service has a detailed account of the events of this day here: More information on May 13 1980
For more info: TWISTER! The 1980 Tornado
1987 - A cold front brought an end to the early season warm spell in the north central U.S. Strong southwesterly winds ahead of the cold front gusted to 52 mph at Marais, MI. (Storm Data) (National Weather Summary)
1997 - The high temperature was 31° in Ironwood with a low of 21°. 0.3 inches of daily record snow fell at Weather Forecast Office in Marquette.
1998 - A resort cabin burned down after it was struck by lightning in Iron River at 0000 CST causing $50,000 in damage.
2003 - Weather Forecast Office in Marquette had a daily record rainfall of 1.27 inches, part of the deluge that fell the 12-13th. The Dead River flood would follow a day later with the Silver Lake Dam failing.
2008 - Thunderstorms marched across Eastern Upper Michigan early in the morning. Lightning struck a large pine tree just outside the administration building of Tahquamenon Falls State Park 9 miles west southwest of Paradise, MI at 0330 EST. The tree was blasted into pieces, and most of the electronic equipment in the admin building was destroyed. Some electrical damage also occurred in a staff building, not quite an eighth of a mile away. $2800 in damage occurred from the lightning.