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A shipwreck, deep snowpack, and blizzard conditions

Grand Rapids Weather Examiner
Grand Rapids Weather Examiner
Almanac 4 April 2014 Click on image for a larger view

A shipwreck, deep snowpack, and blizzard conditions top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service archives here are the weather events that happened on April 4.

1894 - The wood freighter Minneapolis, while carrying 48,517 bushels of wheat, was damaged by ice and then ran across a rocky bottom near McGulpin Point, causing her to leak profusely. She sank quickly almost under the current site of the Mackinac Bridge in the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Michigan after her fires were put out by the rising water. Her crew was rescued by the schooner San Diego, part of her tow. One crew-member claimed that she was holed by ice where her iron plating had been removed to repair the wooden hull and was not replaced.

1999 - A low pressure center from northern Minnesota moved east to northern Lake Michigan with a stationary front remaining just south of Upper Michigan. Warmer air aloft and freezing temperatures at the surface combined to produce a period of freezing rain across north central Upper Michigan. Ice accumulations of around half an inch thick were reported by NWS electronic technicians working on equipment in Houghton and Copper Harbor. Local power companies reported outages due to tree branches breaking and falling across power lines. Police departments reported numerous minor traffic accidents due to slick roads.

1982 – A very chilly day across the state with high temperatures only in the teens and twenties. Record cold high temperatures include Grand Rapids with 27°, Muskegon 27°, Lansing 29°, Alpena 23°, and Sault Ste. Marie 19°.

2002 - A 3-4 foot deep snowpack remained over much of central and western Upper Michigan with 9-10 inches of water in it. This led to snowmelt flooding in mid-April across western and central Upper Michigan.

2003 - A devastating ice storm strikes central Lower Michigan. Heavy rain from thunderstorms falls into a layer of cold air near the ground and freezes on contact, creating sheaths of ice up to 3 inches thick that brings down thousands of tree limbs. It was estimated that 450,000 homes and businesses lost power during the storm and that nearly 50,000 people were without power for a week as persistent cold temperatures keep the heavy ice on the trees for 4 days after the storm. Crews came from four different states to help local utility companies restore power. In southeast Michigan, the storm was responsible for up to an inch of accumulated ice in Oakland County, which caused 500,000 people to be without power and $50 million in damage! The rain associated with this storm accumulated to record levels across the state. Daily rainfall records include Grand Rapids with 1.27”, Lansing 1.54”, Detroit 1.06”, and Flint 1.51”.

2007 - An intense storm system tracking from the Plains into the Great Lakes dumped heavy lake enhanced snow across much of Upper Michigan from the 3rd into the 7th. Blizzard to near-blizzard conditions also occurred from the 4th continuing into the 5th closing many schools and businesses throughout the area. Wind gusts estimated in excess of 50 mph caused damage at a home in Breitung Township just north of Iron Mountain on the 4th. A large pine tree toppled and damaged a backyard deck, an air conditioning unit, a rabbit pen and caused a leak in the natural gas line.

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