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Blizzard conditions, barbed wire, and mild highs

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Blizzard conditions, barbed wire, and mild highs 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 December 13.

1878 - This day marks the first day of a streak of 38 days (December 13, 1878-January 20 1879) of temperatures at or below 32° in southeastern Michigan!

1906 - The wood, package freight John M. Nicol, while carrying 2500 tons of barbed wire, ran aground in a blizzard at Big Summer Island near the Garden Peninsula in Lake Michigan and broke in two, a total loss. She had reportedly been leaking when she left port and was unable to withstand the heavy seas. The crew was rescued by local fishermen in a small gas launch. Salvage of her valuable cargo was carried on during the following winter, and a shanty was erected on Big Summer for the shelter of the salvage crew.

1920 - Mild weather prevails across Lower Michigan with record highs in the upper 50s. Daily record highs include Grand Rapids with 57°, Muskegon 59°, Lansing 56°, Alpena 48°, Houghton Lake 53°, and Sault Ste. Marie 45°. The records for Grand Rapids, Houghton Lake and Sault Ste. Marie still stand today.

1973 - A snowstorm drops about 8 inches of snow from Grand Rapids to Flint. Record snowfall includes Grand Rapids 6.8”, Lansing 7.4” and Flint 4.7”.

1976 - A record low temperature of -20° occurred at Weather Forecast Office in Marquette.

1989 - Strong northwesterly winds, ushering cold arctic air into the central U.S., produced squall with heavy show in the Great Lakes Region. Snowfall totals in Upper Michigan ranged up to 24 inches at Manistique.

2004 - A strong low pressure system moving down from Manitoba brought significant snow and wind to much of west and central Upper Michigan on the 12th and 13th. Spotters reported 24-hour snowfall totals of 10 inches at Phoenix Farms in Keweenaw County, 13 inches at Wetmore in Alger County, 15 inches at Wakefield in Gogebic County and Paint Lake in Iron County, and 20 inches at Calumet in northern Houghton County. 12-hour totals included 6 inches at Gladstone in Delta County, 12 inches at Bruce Crossing in Ontonagon County, 16.5 inches at Watton in Baraga County, and 16.7 inches at the Marquette National Weather Service. North winds gusting to 35 mph resulted in considerable blowing and drifting of snow and near-blizzard conditions. The highest wind gusts measured were over the Keweenaw Peninsula with 48 mph at the Houghton County Airport and 53 mph at Copper Harbor. Many area schools were either closed or delayed due to the storm while numerous minor traffic accidents were reported as a result of the slippery roadways. The Weather Forecast Office in Marquette had a daily record snowfall of 16.8 inches and 0.74 inches of water equivalent from the snow.

2010 - A storm system tracking from the Central Plains into the Great Lakes dumped heavy snow over portions of west and central Upper Michigan from the 11th into the 13th. A spotter near Bergland measured a storm total snowfall of 16.6 inches including a report of 12 inches of snow in 24 hours. A spotter east of Silver City measured ten inches of storm total snowfall. A spotter east of Ironwood measured ten inches of snow in 24 hours and 14 inches storm total snowfall during the event. North winds gusting near 30 mph also caused reduced visibilities in blowing snow. The observer at Herman measured a storm total snowfall of 15.9 inches including 12 inches in a 24-hour period. A spotter at Covington estimated 13 inches of snow in 24 hours. In southeast Michigan additional lake effect snow fell in the wake of the previous day snowstorm across the Thumb region. Storm totals reached 15 inches at Bad Axe and an estimated 20+ inches near the Lake Huron shoreline in Huron County. Wind gusts to 50 mph were reported across the northern Thumb region and created snow drifts in excess of 10 feet is some locations. The snow and blowing snow lead to blizzard conditions over Huron and Sanilac counties, which stranded at least two dozen cars.

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