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Shipwreck, heat, a burning match company and tornadoes

Radar image 11:01 PM Aug 25 2003
Radar image 11:01 PM Aug 25 2003

Shipwreck, heat, a burning match company and tornadoes 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 August 25.

Almanac 25 August 2014
Grand Rapids Weather Examiner

1883 - The wood schooner-barge Dot, while carrying iron ore, was lost from the tow of steamer M.M. Drake in a gale and, leaking heavily, she was abandoned by her crew. The Drake picked them up and went on her way, leaving the vessel to founder in deep water several miles off Grand Marais, MI in Lake Superior.

1896 - A strong southwest wind occurred near Ontonagon. The swamp caught fire and the winds fanned the flames towards the city. Piles of lumber and sawdust were everywhere in the Diamond Match Company's two sawmills and these caught fire. The wind gusts estimated near 75 mph helped to continue to move the fire through Ontonagon. 344 buildings were burnt to the ground, among them the entire Diamond Match Company plant along with 40 million feet of lumber as well as the wood schooner barge City of The Straits which continued to burn into the 26th and two iron bridges along with nearly 300 houses. One person died in the fire. Some 2000 people became homeless that afternoon in a short period of time. The St. Paul railroad gave free passes to the fire victims to any town that the train served. 400 residents took advantage of the offer and left. A refugee camp was set up and housed up to several hundred people well into the fall. Diamond Match Company never rebuilt and eventually after a long judicial fight paid a tax on 40 million board feet of lumber which was the only "aid" Ontonagon got from the corporation that once dominated the town.

1910 - A tornado injured four people near Scottville in Mason County. The tornado destroyed a cement block building, hurling the roof a half mile. Several other buildings were unroofed.

1940 - A stalled cold front brings clouds and very cool high temperatures. Daily records are set for the coolest maximum temperatures with Lansing only seeing a high of 57° and Detroit 60°. At Muskegon and Flint the highs were only 56°, both are records for the coldest maximum temperatures for the month of August. The high of 60° at Grand Rapids is a daily record and only one degree higher than the coldest August day with a record of 59° set on August 26, 1987.

1948 – Heat settles into Michigan with many cities seeing record highs. Grand Rapids sets a record of 94°, Alpena 100°, Detroit 98°, Flint 95°, Houghton Lake 97°, Lansing 96°, Muskegon and Sault Ste. Marie both hit 90°.
1992 – The Weather Forecast Office in Marquette tied the coldest high temperature for that date also set in 1971 of 57°.

2003 - Golf ball sized hail (1.75 inch) was reported with a severe thunderstorm 5 miles northwest of Gladstone in the late afternoon. The combination of afternoon heat and low level convergence along the boundaries separating the higher inland temperatures from cooler lake modified air caused scattered showers and thunderstorms to develop during the afternoon. Some of the storms over central Upper Michigan became severe, producing large hail. A tornado was reported south of Battle Creek during the late evening hours. Click here for a radar loop of the storms on this day. The attached slideshow has a few severe weather maps for the day.

2004 - A strong downburst tore the roof off a section of the Maple Valley High School in Eaton County. The same storm produced a weak tornado minutes later that took the tin roof off a house in Vermontville. Click here for a radar loop of the storms on this day. The attached slideshow has a few severe weather maps for the day.

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