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Spring flooding, heavy rain and record cold

Almanac 17 April 2014 Click on image for a larger view
Almanac 17 April 2014 Click on image for a larger view
Grand Rapids Weather Examiner

Spring flooding, heavy rain and record cold top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service archives here are the weather events that happened on April 17.

1875 - Extreme late season cold sets records across Lower Michigan. Detroit falls to 10° on this date and on the 18th. Lansing bottoms out at an incredible on the 17th and on the 18th.

1922 - Heavy rain from a slow moving thunderstorm causes some street flooding in Grand Rapids. The daily total of 2.94 inches at Grand Rapids is a record for the month of April. Sault Ste. Marie also receives a daily record rainfall of 0.84 inches.

1963 - Monroe County was hit hard by an F3 tornado at 6:20PM that injured 1 person and caused approximately $250,000 in property damage.

2002 - The record setting snowfall in February and March set the stage for flooding in April. During February and March of 2002, north-central and western parts of Upper Michigan received over 100 inches of snowfall. The snow pack held over 11 inches of water. The snow quickly melted during a 6 day period, 11-17 April 2002, releasing all that water into the creeks, streams, rivers and lakes. To exacerbate the situation, over 2 inches of rainfall occurred 10-12 April over much of Upper Michigan, and record high temperatures in the 70s and 80s were recorded on the 15th and 16th. During those two days, a dramatic snow melt occurred with nearly 2 feet of snow melting away. To complicate matters further, moderate rain during the morning of the 18th and severe thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening dumped up to an additional 1 1/2 inches of water over an already saturated and flooded Upper Peninsula. Following the rain and warm temperatures, streams and rivers began to rise and overflow. Many local and county roads were closed due to high water and several dams were in jeopardy of failing. Localized flooding of low lying areas was common across the western and central Upper Peninsula. Major flooding on rivers and lakes occurred in 8 Upper Michigan counties. Gogebic County was the hardest hit. A state of emergency was declared by the Governor, and the county was later declared a disaster area. The towns of Ironwood and Wakefield sustained the greatest damage. Approximately 160 homes and businesses were affected by the rising waters. Major highways US-2, M-28, and M-64 were closed and 25 local and county roads were also closed due to high water. The Black, Montreal and Ontonagon Rivers all went above flood stage. A partial failure of the Presque Isle Wildlife Dam occurred on the Presque Isle River. Heavy rains and rapid melting of the snowpack this spring contributed to the collapse of a 10 feet wide section of the earthen portion of the dam. This partial failure caused increased flows on the Presque Isle River through the town of Marenisco, 2 miles downstream. In Marquette County, rising levels on the Chocolay, Peshekee, Escanaba and Michigamme Rivers forced people from their homes and camps. Hundreds of houses experienced water damage in their basements and dozens of homes had water in their first floor. The high water and increased flow on the Carp River washed out a 65 foot section of highway M-553, closing the road until a new bridge could be built. In Ontonagon County, highway M-28 was closed for 3 days near Bergland and Merriweather due to high water, and many secondary roads were closed because of flooding and wash outs from flooding creeks and streams. Baraga and Houghton Counties experienced flooding on the Sturgeon River and other smaller creeks and streams with flooding of some local roads and structures. Menominee, Dickinson and Iron Counties had flooding along the Montreal River. Local roads were flooded and some homes and businesses had to be evacuated due to rising water. Flood waters began to recede and river levels fell sharply over the weekend of April 20. Property damage from the flooding would amount to $18.5 million.