Record rain, heavy snow and a grounded cargo vessel 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 December 15.
1922 - The wood, tug and cargo vessel Reliance, while carrying lumberjacks and oildrums, was bound Puckasaw, Ont., for the Soo, when she grounded in a storm at Lizard Island, Ontario in Lake Superior. The crew and passengers endured a gale and temperatures as low as -18 before rescue. Still, four died of exposure.
1933 - A high temperature of 61.2° was recorded. This was a record high for this date in Detroit.
1971 - For the second time in 5 days, record high temperatures are followed by record rains. The temperature hits 60° at Grand Rapids and Flint, 64° at Lansing and 58° in Muskegon. Record rain also falls with Muskegon observing 1.48”, Lansing 1.17”, Alpena 1.19”, Sault Ste. Marie 0.90”, Houghton Lake 1.39” and Flint 1.74”. For Flint this is the greatest daily precipitation ever recorded in the month of December.
1987 - A winter storm drops from 8 to 12 inches of snow from Grand Haven to Ludington. Muskegon sets a daily snowfall record of 12.1” of snow. A record 6.7” also falls in Grand Rapids and 7.6” at Houghton Lake.
1989 - A couple of low pressure systems spread heavy snow across the northeastern U.S. Up to 2 feet of snow was reported along Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio, and up to 10 inches was reported in Connecticut. Heavy snow squalls developed over Michigan for the 3rd day in a row. In Michigan, Three Oaks reported 25” of snow in 2 days. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data)
1996 - Low pressure moved from Kansas on the afternoon of the 14th to southwest Wisconsin by 2 am on the 15th and crossed eastern Upper Michigan during the evening of the 15th. Heavy snow developed around midnight of the 15th across the west half of Upper Michigan and ended by noon the same day. East of Marquette and Iron Mountain, precipitation was mostly rain. The highest snow totals included Phoenix in Keweenaw County with 12”, 10” in northwest Iron County about 20 miles northwest of Iron River, and 9” at Pelkie in Houghton County and Three Lakes in Baraga County. The remainder of the affected area received between 6 and 8 inches of snow in less than 12 hours.
2005 - A slow moving area of low pressure southwest of Michigan provided an extended period of southeast winds to the region. Heavy lake enhanced snow off of Lake Huron pounded much of eastern Upper Michigan on the night of the 14th through the 15th. Eastern Chippewa and Mackinac Counties (mainly east of I-75) received about a foot of snow over a 24 hour period. Lake enhancement off of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan brought heavy snow to portions of the Keweenaw Peninsula and south central Upper Michigan on the 14th and 15th. Storm totals included 16” at Phoenix, 14” at Calumet, and 10” each at Wallace in Menominee County and Gladstone in Delta County. Southeast winds gusting as high as 35 mph caused near-blizzard conditions at times during the afternoon and evening hours of the 14th along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Many area schools were either closed or delayed due to the storm system, and numerous minor traffic accidents were reported.
2008 - A passage of a strong Arctic cold front caused blizzard to near-blizzard conditions over western Upper Michigan on the 15th. Dangerously cold wind chills also developed on the 15th and 16th with the arrival of colder air in the wake of the front. An observer ten miles south of Grand Marais measured 8 inches of snow in less than 18 hours. Northwest winds gusting over 30 mph at times also caused considerable blowing of snow and reduced visibilities. The observer eight miles southwest of Ontonagon measured 11 inches of snow in the 24-hour period ending at 7 am on the 15th. West winds gusting over 30 mph caused reduced visibility in blowing snow as well. Schools were closed in Ontonagon on the 15th due to the harsh winter conditions.