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Arctic plunge, thunderstorms and blizzard conditions

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Arctic plunge, thunderstorms and blizzard conditions top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service and Storm Prediction Center (SPC) archives here are the events that happened on March 9.

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1987 – Gale force winds ushered arctic air into the north central U.S. Some places were 50 degrees colder than the previous day. Northeast winds, gusting to 60 mph, produced 8 to 15 foot waves on Lake Michigan causing more than a million dollars damage along the southeastern shoreline of Wisconsin. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)

In Southeast Michigan, the greatest 24 hour temperature drop occurred at Detroit. The temperature fell from 74 degrees on 3/8/87 at 3pm in Detroit, to 23 degrees (a 51 degree drop) on 3/9/87 at 1 pm.

1996 - Record subzero cold grips Lower Michigan with Grand Rapids falling to -7° and Muskegon hitting -6°.

1998 - Arctic air plunges across the Great Lakes after one of the warmest winters on record. The above normal water temperatures contribute to heavy lake effect snow squalls that produce blizzard conditions. From 8 to 12 inches of snow is piled into deep drifts by winds gusting over 40 mph.

2000 - After a week of record high temperatures, winter made a dramatic comeback. A storm system that developed over the plains tracked from Iowa across Wisconsin and Lower Michigan Wednesday night and Thursday. As the low moved south of the Upper Peninsula, light rain on Wednesday night quickly turned to freezing rain and sleet and then to snow as cold air swept in on strong northeast winds behind the low. From a record high of 71 degrees on Wednesday, temperatures at Marquette's National Weather Service Office fell into the teens on Thursday with wind chill readings dropping as low as 20 below zero. Periods of heavy snow Thursday morning left up to a foot of new snow on the ground before diminishing to scattered flurries Thursday afternoon. Snowfall reports included 12 inches at Ironwood, 9 inches in Bruce Crossing, Kenton, Three Lakes and Ishpeming, and 8 inches in Negaunee and Gwinn. Wind gusts to 45 mph created near blizzard conditions at times in blowing and drifting snow with visibilities near zero. Many schools and businesses across west and central Upper Michigan were closed or delayed opening because of the storm. Fire fighters in Saint Ignace believe a bolt of lightning caused a fire at the Father Marquette Memorial Museum in Saint Ignace. The fire destroyed the building causing $150,000 in damage. The Museum honored Father Marquette, the man who founded Saint Ignace 300 years previous.

2002 – From the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) archives, a strong storm races to the northeast across the Great Lakes and into Canada. A line of showers and thunderstorms accompany the disturbance. There are dozens of reports of trees blown down by the strong wind and one man is killed from a falling tree in Ohio. In Michigan the strong wind and damage is not associated with any thunderstorms. In Manistee several trees and power lines came down and siding is torn off the side of a house. Grand Rapids and Lansing report a wind gust of 59 mph and Muskegon 54 mph. Light rain changes to snow as the temperature plummets from the mid-50s at noon to the low 30s, 2 1/2 hours later. Between the 9th and 10th, a winter storm moving across Upper Michigan from the Rockies, coated Negaunee, Marquette, and Harvey with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice.

Detroit NWS - A very strong cold front moved across southeast Michigan during the late afternoon hours of the 9th. A line of showers developed along the cold front. Very strong winds and brief heavy rain were associated with these showers. Behind the line of showers, powerful winds brought much colder air into the region. A low pressure system, which moved across the northern Great Lakes during the afternoon of the 9th, strengthened during the evening as it moved northeast of the region. This allowed the strong winds to continue into the early morning hours of the 10th. In addition to the winds, temperatures dropped from readings in the 50s during the early afternoon of the 9th, to the 20s by late evening. Wind gusts measured between 60 and 70 MPH affected southeast Michigan during the passage of the cold front. Winds as high as 50 to 60 MPH continued into the night.

2011 - A low pressure system lifting up from the Plains brought moderate to heavy snow to portions of central and eastern Upper Michigan. The observer near Menominee measured seven inches of wet snow in 12 hours.

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