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Deadly rip currents, severe storms, a shipwreck, and a derecho

Radar image 10:32 AM 4 July 2003
Radar image 10:32 AM 4 July 2003

Deadly rip currents, severe storms, a shipwreck, and a derecho top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service and Storm Prediction Center (SPC) archives here events that happened on July 4.

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

1883 - The wood, bulk freight "steambarge" Mary Jarecki, while carrying iron ore, went ashore on the west side of Au Sable Point, west of Grand Marais, MI in Lake Superior in a heavy fog. Despite the efforts of the tug Mystic with a 14-inch steam pump, the vessel remained in place and was later pounded to pieces by a storm.

1911 - The phrase Hot as the Fourth of July gains new meaning as temperatures soar to near 100°, for Michigan's hottest Independence Day on record.

1957 - The strongest tornado since 1950 in Livingston County occurred at 6:55PM. This tornado was categorized as an F4 and caused 4 injuries and up to $500,000 in damage. Also on this day in 1957, another F4 tornado swept through Oakland County, injuring two people.

1969 - Nature's fireworks turn violent as severe thunderstorms form in the evening and drop several tornadoes across Lower Michigan. More than 60 people are injured, most of them from a tornado that hit Flat Rock in southern Wayne County. This tornado destroyed a tile factory, carrying sheet metal over a mile. Another tornado injured eleven people about four miles east of Jackson as it damaged a dozen mobile homes.

1974 - Tornadoes strike Lower Michigan during the early afternoon. One person is injured as a tornado damages several houses between Charlotte and Potterville in Eaton County. Tornadoes also damage barns and outbuildings in Huron and Tuscola Counties.

1977 - The "Independence Day Derecho of 1977" left a path of destruction from Minnesota to Ohio. Winds of up to 115 mph destroyed property and leveled forests over Wisconsin. A widespread severe weather outbreak hit Lower Michigan with tornadoes and downbursts. Two people were injured and almost a million dollars in damage was done. A tornado injured one person and destroyed two mobile homes and one barn near Maple Ridge in Arenac County. Another person was injured by a tornado at Otisville in Genesee County as four mobile homes were destroyed there. Two homes and a camper unit were heavily damaged as a tornado moved from southern Isabella County into northern Montcalm County, ending northeast of Vestaburg. By the time the derecho reached southeast Michigan, winds had weakened to 60 to 70 mph. The storm did, however, spawn F1 tornados in Genessee, Lapeer, and Monroe counties.

1985 - 1.25 inch hail (half dollar sized) fell out of a severe thunderstorm in Negaunee and 1.75 inch hail (golf ball sized) fell 0.7 miles southeast of Palmer in the late afternoon.

1986 - A tornado tore across a portion of northeast Wisconsin into northern Menominee County in the early evening. It touched down 2 miles south of Niagara, WI, at highways 8 and 141, destroyed a building next to a restaurant and slashed some trees. It then skipped east southeast to 4 miles southeast of Niagara, WI, and destroyed a home and garage, carrying its roof 1/4 of a mile. The tornado heavily damaged another home before crossing the Menominee River into Michigan one mile west of Faithorn. It then intensified and produced its maximum intensity damage just north of Nadeau, ending 5 miles east northeast of Nadeau. It was on the ground for 24 miles with a width at one point of 400 yards and injured 12 people. It destroyed a number of homes and barns. This tornado was accompanied by golf-ball sized hail (1.75 inch) and rated an F-3 on the Fujita Scale and at one point was 1/4 mile wide. $2.5 million in property damage was done.

1988 - Record heat for the summer continued. A record high of 91° was set at Weather Forecast Office in Marquette.

1999 - 1 inch hail (quarter sized) fell out of a severe thunderstorm in Bergland at 1930 EST.

2003 - The July 4th holiday turns tragic as seven people drown in rip currents on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. A line of thunderstorms earlier in the day had produced strong winds across the middle of the lake, and the dangerous currents formed several hours later. Click here for a radar loop of the Michigan storms. The attached slideshow has a few severe weather maps for the day.

2012 – The hot summer of 2012 set records on this holiday. The temperature rose to 102° in Detroit, a record for the day and its hottest temperature in nearly a quarter of a century. Lansing also sets a new record high with 100°.

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