Thunder, the coldest December day and heavy snow 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 19.
1929 - Cold and snowy weather prevails with high temperatures only around 10° and heavy lake effect snow. In Grand Rapids 10” of snow falls at on this date, with a three day total of almost 20” from the 18th to the 20th. The two-day snowstorm dropped 13.8” of snow on Detroit and 16.9” of snow on Saginaw! This placed the 1929 storm as the fifth heaviest snow storm for both Detroit and Saginaw. Flint recorded 12.1” of snow with the storm.
1983 - A massive area of arctic high pressure dominates the weather across much of North America during an historic cold wave. Grand Rapids falls to -18°, setting their all-time December record low. Marquette dips to a record setting -21° on this date and Alpena -12°. Marquette will see their all-time record low for December one day later, on the 20th, with a reading of -28°. Muskegon dips to a record low of -4° which is tied in 1996.
1996 - A surface trough stalled over central Upper Michigan and central Lake Superior on December 18 and 19. With northerly winds across the west half of Lake Superior, heavy lake effect snow developed around midnight on the 18th and continued through the evening of the 19th. The heaviest snow occurred over Baraga, Keweenaw, Houghton and Ontonagon counties where amounts exceeded 2 feet in 36 hours. Actual totals were: Herman 33 inches, L'anse 33 inches, Three Lakes 16 inches, Watton 10 inches, Ironwood 20 inches, Calumet 15 inches, Kenton 13 inches, Pelkie 12 inches, Houghton 10 inches, Phoenix 25 inches, Bergland 33 inches, and Ontonagon 22 inches.
1998 - Arctic air flowing south behind an Alberta Clipper set up a band of lake effect snow showers across parts of western Upper Michigan. Snowfall totals included 11 inches at Rockland and at Ironwood.
2000 - On the 18th and 19th of December, low pressure moved from western Illinois to Lake Huron, spreading snow across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. North winds turned northeast and intensified lake effect snow bands. The lake enhanced snow showers tapered off during the evening of the 19th as the low pulled away and winds became variable. Twenty-four hour snowfall reports included 16 inches in Negaunee and Gwinn, 14.5 inches in Ontonagon and Herman, 15 inches in Bergland, 13 inches in Chatham and 11 inches in Bessemer.
2008 - A winter storm moved across Illinois, Indiana and Ohio on December 19th. There were numerous reports from spotters of thunder with the heaviest bursts of snowfall. Sleet mixed with the snow as far north as Flint, and freezing rain was mixed in Lenawee and Monroe Counties. Up to 5” of snow fell across Lenawee and Monroe. Washtenaw and Wayne counties recorded 5 to 8 inches of snow. North of 8 Mile Road, snowfall was generally 8 to 10 inches. However, there were two bands heavier snow with 10 to 13 inches. The first band of heavier snow fell across Northern Oakland and Macomb Counties. The other band of heavier snow extended across the M-46 corridor from Saginaw and Northern Genesee Counties across to Tuscola and Sanilac Counties.
In West Michigan a record 10.2”of snow fell at Grand Rapids during one of the snowiest months on record in southwest Lower Michigan. Some of the impressive monthly snow totals are: 88.7” at Hart in Oceana County, 68.6” at Muskegon and 54.6” at Grand Rapids. 2008 is also the snowiest calendar year on record at Hart, with over 200” and at Grand Rapids with 140.7” for the year.