Heavy rain, shipwrecks, record cold, and a tornado 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 August 20.
1887 - The wood fish tug, A. Booth was on her way to Duluth in tow after being sunk about a year earlier on August 27th, 1886 in a storm 20 miles southwest of Grand Marais, Minnesota. She was brought up in late July 1887. A gale on Lake Superior tore off some of her floatation barrels and she capsized and sank in 120 feet of water 6 miles from Duluth.
1888 - An F2 tornado with a damage path 100 yards wide, touched down in downtown Marquette in the midafternoon and moved northeast. This tornado unroofed an entire business block. It was colorfully described as "a huge bird, with long fan-like wings revolving in a circular movement around a funnel-shaped body."
1926 - The wood, passenger and package freight Saronic had big waves overturn her coal-fired galley stove, catching her ablaze. She was run ashore on Cockburn Island in the North Channel of Lake Huron to save the vessel and crew, but still burned to the waterline. The hull was later recovered and rebuilt to the barge W.L. Kennedy. An engraving of her appeared on the face of the 1907-08 Canadian dollar bill. Her crew called her "Betsy."
1992 - Temperatures fall into the 30s in some rural areas during the coldest August on record at Grand Rapids. Record lows for the day include 42° at Muskegon and 43° at Grand Rapids.
1996 - Over half of Detroit's precipitation (0.29 inches) occurred during this driest August in the 20th century when only 0.43 inches fell for the entire month.
2007 - Heavy rain falls across southern Lower Michigan for the second consecutive day. Several cities observe daily records on this day and some places see over 4 inches of rain for the two day total on the 19th and 20th. Daily records include Grand Rapids 2.34”, Lansing 2.53”, Detroit 1.62” and Flint 1.34”.
2010 - Thunderstorms developed well north of a warm front that was moving into Southwest Lower Michigan. A couple of storms produced wind damage. A barn was destroyed, and several trees were snapped off at Rudyard in the early evening. $16,000 in property damage was caused by this severe thunderstorm. The Michigan DNRE reported several large trees down near Blind Sucker Flooding 8 miles west of Deer Park causing $3000 in damage. A camper was flipped over by thunderstorm winds at Muskallonge State Park 2 miles west northwest of Deer Park at 1901 EST causing $2000 in damage. 1 inch hail (quarter sized) fell 11 miles north of Manistique at 1748 EST. Golf ball sized hail (1.75 inch) fell 3 miles southeast of Germfask at 1806 EST.
2011 - Severe thunderstorms were concentrated mostly along the M-59 corridor, causing the Dream Cruise along Woodward Avenue to be cut short, as minor damage was reported. The other notable item from this event was a weak tornado reported near Chesaning in Saginaw County.