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Flooding, large hail and a massive tornado

radar image 18 Apr 2002 1102PM
radar image 18 Apr 2002 1102PM

Flooding, large hail and a massive tornado top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service and the Storm Prediction Center archives here are the weather events that happened on April 18.

Almanac 18 April 2014 Click on image for a larger view
Grand Rapids Weather Examiner

1880 – More than two dozen tornadoes touch down from Arkansas and Kansas to Michigan and Wisconsin. A massive F4 tornado devastates the town of Marshfield, MO, killing 65 people. Overall, 100 people perish in the outbreak. In Michigan a tornado hits Chester, in Eaton County where barns are destroyed and livestock killed. A quarter-mile wide swath of trees is leveled in a forest by the tornado.
1975 - 2.69 inches of precipitation fell in Flint. This is the maximum precipitation record for the month of April in Flint. Lansing also observes a daily precipitation record with 2.53 inches.

1976 - An early season heat wave continued across the Great Lakes. Record highs set included: Alpena, 85°, and Sault Ste. Marie 83°.

1995 - Snow fell across northwest upper Michigan on the 18th as low pressure tracked from Iowa northeast across northern Lower Michigan. Heavy snow was confined to the Keweenaw Peninsula, where nine inches accumulated at Bumbletown and seven inches accumulated at Chassel. Accumulating snow fell as far east as Marquette, where nearly two inches was reported. Lightning ignited an electrical fire that damaged the McCann Elementary School in St. Ignace causing $5000 in damage.

2002 - The heat wave continues from the Midwest the east as high pressure off the Carolina blocked a frontal boundary across the Plains. West Michigan records for the date include: Lansing 86°, Muskegon 84°, Grand Rapids 86°, Houghton Lake 86°, Detroit 84° and Flint 86°. Some of these records will fall in 2004. That same day, widespread thunderstorms traveling across the state in waves, produce numerous reports of strong wind gusts and damage. The reports start at 10 AM in Manistee and continue until 2 AM on the 19th in Flushing. Most of the reports were for trees blown down; the highest wind gust is from Kewadin with a reading of 65 mph. There are several reports of large hail primarily raging in size from 0.75” to 1” in diameter. The largest is 1.75” in Vienna. In the Upper Peninsula trees were blown down along Thousand Island Lake in the midafternoon. 1 inch diameter hail (quarter sized) was reported in Cedar River in the midafternoon. 1 inch diameter hail (quarter sized) was reported in the late afternoon in Agate. A severe thunderstorm with gusts up to 69 mph caused a 6 inch diameter fir tree to be blown down in Au Train in the early evening. Golfball sized hail was reported (1.75 inch) 4 miles south of Mass City in the early evening. 1 1/2 inch diameter hail (ping pong ball sized) was reported 2 miles north of Pelkie, 6 miles southeast of Rockland and 2 miles southeast of Mass City in the early evening. As a low pressure system moved toward Michigan's Upper Peninsula from the northern plains, scattered morning showers gave way to afternoon sunshine. Temperatures in the warm air ahead of the storm system rose into the 70s. See the slideshow on the top of the page for weather images from this day. Click this link for a radar animation of the thunderstorms passing over Michigan.

2004 – More record heat hits Michigan with readings tying or surpassing the records set in 2002. Grand Rapids sees a high of 86°, Detroit 86°, and Flint 87°. As a low pressure area from the central plains and its attendant warm front approached Upper Michigan, showers and thunderstorms developed near the Wisconsin border. The showers and thunderstorms spread northeast across Upper Michigan during the morning before weakening and ending in the afternoon. Several of the thunderstorms became severe and dropped hailstones as large as golf balls. Quarter sized hail (1 inch) fell at 0830 CST 4 miles west of Iron River and in Iron River at 1000 CST and 1.75 inch hail (golf ball sized) fell in Stambaugh at 0950 CST. Half-dollar sized hail was reported (1.25 inch) in Arnold at 1115 EST. There was a lull late in the afternoon, but the approach of a cold front set off another round of thunderstorms in the late evening. Some of these storms over western Upper Michigan also became severe, with golf ball sized hail and damaging winds. Thunderstorm wind gusts in excess of 60 mph knocked down trees in a path through Gogebic and Iron Counties into Dickinson County. A number of 6 to 12 inch diameter trees were blown down along highway U.S. 141 8 miles north of Amasa at 1957 CST. Several 6 to 8 inch diameter trees were blown down 3 miles north of Channing in the mid-evening. Golf-ball sized hail (1.75 inch) was reported and several large trees were blown down in Watersmeet in the early evening. The storm system produced heavy rainfall as well as severe thunderstorms. As the low moved from the plains into the Upper Great Lakes, warm and very moist air from the Gulf of Mexico spread northeast as well. Heavy rain under the stronger storms left standing water in yards and parking lots. This first round of convection diminished during the afternoon as the storms moved east. The approach of the low pressure system's cold front then set the stage for another round of thunderstorms in the late evening. Heavy rain also fell under the most intense thunderstorms. Total rainfall amounts were excessive at many places west of Marquette and Iron Mountain. Marenisco in Gogebic County was inundated with 2.90 inches of rain. Some other impressive rainfall totals include 2.64 inches at Ironwood, 2.57 inches at Pelkie, 2.20 inches at Amasa, 2.07 inches at Baraga, and 2.00 inches at Watton. This heavy rainfall caused some minor flooding of smaller streams and low-lying areas. The runoff from the precipitation and the melting of lingering snow over the higher terrain areas caused some flooding of the larger rivers over the west half of Upper Michigan that lingered for several days after the rain ended. Minor flooding was reported along the Sturgeon River from Alston to Chassell and along the Middle Branch of the Escanaba River at Humbolt. Minor flooding was also reported along the Michigamme River from Republic to Witch Lake, along the Trap Rock River at Lake Linden, on the Chocolay River at Harvey and along the Paint River at Crystal Falls. The slideshow on the top has a few severe weather maps for the day. Click here for a radar loop of the storms on this day.

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