Ping pong ball sized hail, chilly air and drought conditions 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 July 31.
1883 - Very heavy rains during June and July cause the Grand River to rise to unusually high summer levels. Lumber companies use the high water to float logs to a log boom upstream of Grand Rapids. The logs broke loose and crashed into the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee Railroad bridge creating a jam estimated at thirty-feet deep and seven-miles long. Sections of Grand Rapids were flooded by backwater. Eventually the bridge gave way and several bridges downstream were damaged by the cascading logs.
1891 - This date marked the end of the coldest July ever recorded in Detroit, with a mean temperature of only 67.2°, well over six degrees below the current norm!
1917 - A heat wave produced record highs in the upper 90s as July ended, with Grand Rapids hitting 98° and Lansing 96°. There were also record high minimum temperatures of 79° at Grand Rapids and 74° at Lansing.
1921 - July was the warmest month on record. Average temperature was 73.0° which exceeds the 68.7° average temperature registered during the heat wave of 1936 in Ishpeming.
1925 - Greatest rainfall for a calendar date in Detroit occurred on this date when 4.74" fell. Grand Rapids also observed a daily rainfall record of 1.59”.
1992 - July ended up with an average temperature of 58.4° which is 6.2° below normal at National Weather Service office in Marquette. Only other July that was close to being that cold was 59.7° in 1891 in the Marquette area.
1999 - Trees and power lines were down with a severe thunderstorm that moved through Brimley in the early morning. A bow echo moved east across much of eastern upper and northern lower Michigan ahead of a cold front moving over the upper Midwest. Numerous reports of straight line wind damage were associated with the bow. Storms with heavy rain ahead of the bow echo caused some flooding across Mackinac County. A few inches of standing water on local streets in Engadine. A gust to 68 mph was reported at the Newberry Luce County Airport. Trees were brought down in Curtis.
2002 - Hail the size of a ping pong ball (1.5 inch) was reported at Gaastra and one and a quarter inch diameter hail was reported in Crystal Falls in the early morning. Quarter sized hail (1 inch) was reported 8 miles southwest of Paulding. An apple tree 1 foot in diameter was blown down in Mass City. A tree 10 inches in diameter was blown down 8 miles southeast of La Branch in the early morning. A spotter estimated 65 mph wind gusts out of a severe thunderstorm 14 miles southwest of Munising in the midafternoon. Severe thunderstorms were set off over Michigan's Upper Peninsula as warm, moist air over the area interacted with a warm front that moved north from Wisconsin. Large hail and damaging winds were reported. Power lines and 10 to 12 inch diameter trees were blown down 5 miles north of Shingleton with gusts up to 75 mph. Numerous small trees were blown down in Cornell and three to four inch diameter trees were blown down across River Road in Gladstone. Numerous trees and power lines were blown down across the Iron Mountain area and trees and branches were blown down 2 miles southeast of Foster City and numerous trees 1 to 2 feet in diameter were blown down at Hardwood. A tree was blown down across the road in La Branch. Numerous trees and power lines were blown down 10 miles north of Manistique and a 10 inch diameter tree branch was broken off in Steuben at 1625 EST.
2003 - Another short wave rotating across the Upper Peninsula triggered severe thunderstorms with large hail over the extreme southern Upper Michigan. Quarter sized hail (1 inch) was reported in Stephenson at 1600 CST and hail an inch and a half in diameter (ping pong ball sized) was reported 2 miles southwest of Stephenson at 1615 CST.
2005 - Hot and dry weather during the month leads to drought conditions along the Lake Michigan coast. Agricultural production was hampered as the dry conditions continue into August.
2006 - High temperatures well into the 90s, combined with dew points in the lower to mid-70s, sent heat indices into the 100° to 105° range over much of west and central Upper Michigan.
2012 – Strong to severe thunderstorms moved across West Michigan in the early morning hours with large hail and damaging wind. Click here for a radar loop of the storms on this day The attached slideshow has a few severe weather maps for the day. Read more about the storms at these links:
Recap of Thunderstorms Tuesday Morning
Tuesday morning wind and rain