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Northern lights, record temperatures and storm damage

Radar image 7AM 22 March 2007
Radar image 7AM 22 March 2007

Northern lights, record temperatures and storm damage 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 March 22.

Almanac 22 March 2014 Click on image for a larger view
Grand Rapids Weather Examiner

1920 – A Spectacular display of the Northern Lights was visible as far south as Bradenton FL, El Paso TX and Fresno CA. In Detroit, the display as described “so brilliant as to blot out all stars below first magnitude”. (22nd-23rd) (The Weather Channel)

1938 - Temperatures soar into the 80s during one of the warmest March days in Lower Michigan. Grand Rapids ties their record high for the month with 82° and Lansing sets a record for the date with 81°. The daytime temperature soared to 81° degrees in Saginaw County, which ties for the second highest maximum temperature recorded in Saginaw in the month of March. Flint sees a record for the date with 82°, which is the all-time record high temperature for the month of March. Detroit sees a daily record with 81°; Alpena sets a record with a cooler 79° and Houghton Lake an even chillier record 77°.

1989 – Six cities in the Great Lakes Region, and three in southern Texas, reported new record low temperatures for the date, including Alpena with a reading of -, Muskegon with and Brownsville TX with a reading of 38°. (The National Weather Summary) Also in Michigan, Houghton Lake observes a record low temperature of -8°.

1997 - Heavy snow fell across parts of New England with 8 inches falling at Danforth, ME with 4 inches at Grand Falls, ME. In Michigan, Marquette receives 2.4 inches of snow pushing its seasonal snowfall total to 253.4 inches, the city's snowiest season on record up to this time. This record was broken in the 2001-2002 season.

2002 - An area of low pressure moved across Lower Michigan on the 21st. Heavy lake effect snow showers in the wake of the system brought up to 9 inches of snow to the Lake Superior snow belt of Chippewa County on the 22nd.

2007 - Thunderstorms ahead of a cold front produce strong wind gusts that knock down trees across West Michigan. Most of the damage occurs near sunrise on the 22nd. Click this link for a radar loop of the storms. See the slideshow on the top of this story for more images of this event.

2012 - An unprecedented spring heat wave, and quite possibly the most anomalous weather event in over 130 years of record-keeping in Michigan, came to a close. The high temperature of 86° was the warmest March temperature ever in Detroit, beating by two degrees the record of 84° set the day before. Highs of 84° and 75° in Flint and Saginaw fell short of the all-time March records set the day before. However, the 84° high in Flint still tied for the second warmest March temperature on record (Flint also reached 84° on March 20, 2012 and March 22, 1938).
Altogether, SE Michigan shattered all significant records for March warmth. Detroit set 6 records in 8 days, including tying or breaking the monthly record twice. Flint set 8 records in 9 days, including tying or breaking the monthly record three times. Saginaw set 6 records in 8 days, which also included tying or breaking the monthly record two times.
The heat wave also included 10 consecutive days (March 14-23) of 70 degrees or higher in Detroit. This has never happened in March. In fact, it has never even happened in April. The closest competition is a span of 9 days late in the month of April over 125 years ago, in 1886.
West Michigan also observed record setting heat and you can read more about this heat wave here: remembering the record setting heat of March 2012.

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