The latest opening to the shipping season, record rainfall and a swarm of 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 May 21.
1873 - The latest opening to shipping season in Marquette occurred with the first boat in the harbor. This was the year of the famous ice blockade.
1889 - The wood schooner, 3-mast Erastus Corning, while carrying iron ore from Escanaba, was in tow of steamer Roumania. She was in a gale and struck bottom at Gull Island shoal, broke her towline, began to leak and went ashore at Poverty Island near Fairport, MI in Lake Michigan and later broke up.
1953 - An F4 tornado hit St. Clair County resulting in 2 fatalities and 68 injuries.
2001 - A swarm of at least 20 tornadoes descend on Lower Michigan. Fortunately, most of the tornadoes are relatively weak and only five people were injured. Damage included dozens of trees downed, barns blown over and roof and siding damage to several homes. Three homes and a golf course were heavily damaged as an F2 tornado hit near Hartland and dissipated near Fenton. Other weak tornadoes hit Oakland, Lapeer, Shiawasee, and Saginaw Counties. Click here for a radar loop of the 2001 storms.
2004 - Severe weather causes widespread damage across southern Lower Michigan. Thunderstorm winds up to 70 mph, large hail and flash flooding occurred as a squall line moved from Benton Harbor to Ann Arbor. Hundreds of trees are knocked down and thousands lose power. These storms produce record daily rainfall for several Michigan cities. Records include Grand Rapids with 2.46”, Muskegon 2.3”, Lansing 1.44”, Detroit 1.69”, and Flint with 1.03”. Click here for a radar loop of the 2004 storms.