Microburst winds, feet of snow, fires and record heat 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 May 17.
1906 - The spring across the U.P. was very dry. April came in more than 5 degrees above average with dry conditions. A series of fires broke out in the dry swamps, fields and forests of the U.P. and burned down portions of towns and farming settlements. The fires occurred in an area from Bessemer to Newberry. The high temperature reached 91° in Marquette with low relative humidity. Fires broke out around Marquette and were fanned by winds of 30-40 mph at times. At least 50 farmers lost their homes and farms to the fires in the Chocolay Valley along with cattle and other livestock. 100 families in the area south and southeast of Marquette were homeless. No one was killed with the fires. Kenton, and Sidnaw and Big Bay were threatened with fires, but saved.
1907 - Timbered land was still covered with 1-2 feet of snow near Negaunee.
1962 - An early season heat wave sends temperatures into the upper 80s and lower 90s across Michigan. Record highs on this date include Grand Rapids with 91°, Muskegon 88°, Lansing 89°, Alpena 91°, Detroit 93°, Flint 89°, Houghton Lake 88°, and Sault Ste. Marie 88°.
1997 - Two inches of snow fell at Herman, MI, marking the last measurable snow for the 1996-1997 snow season. The 384.0” for this just concluded snow season broke a state snowfall record that was set the previous 1995-1996 season of 347.0”. The average snowfall at Herman is 239.7”. (Accord's Weather Guide Calendar)
1998 - Microburst winds downed 12-18 inch diameter aspen and pine trees in a location known as the "Baraga Plains" in a severe thunderstorm with gusts up to 63 mph in the early evening. Roll clouds and funnel clouds were observed in the area around 3 miles southwest of Baraga, but no conclusive visual or ground evidence of tornado touchdown was found. Thunderstorm winds tore off part of the Lakeside Inn's copper roof and downed large maple trees in Baraga State Park campground and did $5000 worth of property damage in the early evening in Baraga. An automatic weather station reported a 64 mph wind gust at Pelkie at 2005 EDT. Thunderstorm wind gusts downed 12 inch diameter trees and blew shingles off a roof in L'anse and snapped 8 inch diameter trees just south of L'anse at 2011 EST. 25 miles southwest of Houghton had a wind gust to 61 mph at 1955 EST. Microburst with wind gusts over 75 mph downed dozens of trees and damaged buildings at Cornell and Gladstone between 2210 and 2215 EST. At Cornell, strong winds destroyed a barn. In Gladstone, trees up 30 inches in diameter were blown down. Three storage sheds were destroyed, 15 homes suffered significant damage, and many other homes and businesses received minor damage. A 12 year girl in Gladstone suffered a broken arm when a pop up camper she was in flipped over. A woman inside a Gladstone house received a lacerated ear when a 2 by 4 from a demolished storage shed crashed through a window. This storm did $400,000 in property damage. An 18 inch diameter apple tree was downed 5 miles east of Rapid River at 2240 EST.
1999 - A thunderstorm bringing winds of 58 mph swept through Northville at 6:15pm causing 2 thousand dollars in damages. Winds of 60 mph occurred with storms passing through Oakley at 5:00pm causing 5 thousand dollars in damages and through Saginaw at 5:22pm causing $3,000 in damages.
2001 - Wind gusts out of a severe thunderstorm up to 75 mph caused an 18 inch diameter tree to be up-rooted, other trees downed 17 miles northeast of Munising in Alger County in the late afternoon and 8 inch diameter trees down 18 miles northwest of Seney. 6 to 8 inch diameter trees down 19 miles north of Newberry in the early evening. A cold front moving east across Upper Michigan produced severe thunderstorms with hail and high winds over eastern Upper Peninsula and over eastern Lake Superior in the afternoon.
2008 - A severe thunderstorm dropped 1 inch hail (quarter sized) over Schoolcraft County over Gulliver in the early afternoon.