Deadly lightning, severe storms, and shipwrecks 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 September 19.
1895 - The steam barge Montana hit a southwest gale when they tried to enter the Portage Canal on the Keweenaw. The barge had trouble making the canal due to winds and waves and made it to the entrance piers before running aground, losing her rudder and shoe and damaging the hull. The ship sank to a depth of 16 feet and blocked the entrance and exit to the entry for a couple days. Strong winds in Calumet blew down a wall of one new home onto the house next to it causing considerable damage to both houses with no injuries. Heavy rain flooded streets in Hancock. A bridge across the Portage Canal linking Houghton and Hancock, had a portion of the sidewalk and railing blown off. A number of yachts broke from their moorings at the Onigaming club and drifted to Isle Royale.
1898 - The wood, package freighter Colorado, while carrying 1500 tons of flour, was blinded by forest fire smoke and went hard on Sawtooth Reef near Eagle River, MI in Lake Superior. Several tugs were sent from Duluth to assist her, but a gale hit the area on the 20th and another on the 23rd while she was still aground and she was pounded to matchwood. According to newspaper reports, the wreck lay right on top of the steamer James Pickands.
1898 - The wood, bulk freight “lumber hooker” Keystone, while carrying 1,002 tons of coal, was bound Cleveland for Manitowoc, Wisconsin, when she stranded on Big Summer Island, MI in Lake Michigan in a northwest gale and the next day burned to the waterline. Oddly, she was insured for fire damage, but not against going ashore.
1903 - The wood, bulk freight A.A. Parker, while carrying iron ore, sprang a leak in a heavy gale. Lifesaving Service answered her distress signals and rescued 18 crew and 2 dogs just before she went down. She sank in 120 feet of water in Lake Superior. The wreck was located off Grand Marais, MI in the summer of 2001.
1997 - A line of severe thunderstorms producing wind gusts to 70 mph downed trees and power lines from Allegan County through Jackson County. Around 10,000 customers lost power. A boy in Hastings was injured by a lightning strike. The severe thunderstorms downed trees and power lines in Chelsea (Washtenaw County), Farmington Hills (Oakland County), Detroit (Wayne County), Clinton (Lenawee County), and Dundee (Monroe County). Lightning struck a farm near Coleman (Midland County) killing 4 horses. Lightning also damaged 2 houses in Waterford (Oakland County) and an apartment building in Westland (Wayne County). About 20,000 people were left without power.
2002 - An upper air disturbance move across Lower Michigan during the late afternoon and evening hours on the 19th. This disturbance combined with unseasonably warm and humid air across Lower Michigan to trigger widespread thunderstorms. These thunderstorms initially moved into the Saginaw Valley during the late afternoon hours. During the evening, another round of thunderstorms moved from south to north across the region. Some of these thunderstorms were severe with damaging wind gusts, including an estimated 100,000 dollars in damage in Algonac and Harsen Island. Three men were installing a roof at an apartment complex under construction in Ann Arbor when they were struck by lightning. Two of the men were injured, while the third was later pronounced dead. Click here for a radar loop of the storms on this day. The slideshow on the top has a few severe weather maps for the day
2003 - A deep surface low pressure system tracked from the northern plains across western Lake Superior. High winds developed over the Keweenaw Peninsula and over Lake Superior, as the low deepened and moved into Ontario. West winds gusted as high as 57 mph at Houghton, and the Stannard Rock lighthouse measured a sustained wind of 53 knots, or 61 mph, during the early evening. Broken trees and branches knocked down power lines with power outages lasting into the night in several communities.
2005 - Severe thunderstorms brought trees down on a power line near Smoky Lake 14 miles west of Iron River in the early afternoon causing $1000 in damage. A wind gust to 59 mph with four-inch diameter tree branches down on Highway M-189 happened 3 miles south of Iron River.
2007 - A low pressure system moving across Lake Superior produced gusty winds to 58 mph at the Grand Marais break wall in the late morning.
2011 - Detroit recorded 1.81 inches of rainfall which is a record for the date. This helped push Detroit to its 4th wettest September on record with 6.28 inches of rain. Interestingly, the September rain did not extend farther north. Flint record 2.09 inches and Saginaw had 1.73 inches which were both well below average and in the top 30 driest Septembers for those two cities.