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Violent F4 tornado, snow, heat and heavy rain

Radar image 2:58 AM 12 May 2000
Radar image 2:58 AM 12 May 2000

Violent F4 tornado, snow, heat and heavy rain 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 12.

Almanac 12 May 2012 Click on image for a larger view
Grand Rapids Weather Examiner

1907 - Snow of 1-3 feet still drifted on some fields near Ishpeming.

1956 - A severe weather outbreak produces tornadoes, high winds and large hail across Lower Michigan. A deadly tornado hit near Flint for the second time in three years, injuring 116 and killing three people on the southeast side of the city. This tornado receives a rating of F4 on the Fujita Tornado Scale with winds of 207-260 mph. One person was killed in Gratiot County as a tornado moved between Alma and Ithaca. Muskegon was pelted with baseball-sized hail that caused thousands of dollars in damage to homes and cars. Read more about this tornado and others that hit on this day here: Violent Flint Tornado of May 12, 1956. This tornado occurred just three years after the devastating Flint/Beecher tornado of June 8, 1953 and is the last killer tornado to hit Genesee County. On the same date, an F4 tornado hit southern Wayne County and was responsible for 22 injuries.

1988 - An F0 tornado touched down in the early evening 4.6 miles SE of Bruce Crossing. It was on the ground for 0.2 mile and was 10 yards wide.

1997 - Ironwood had a foot of snow while Ontonagon had 13.6 inches, Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park headquarters had 16 inches and Summit Peak in the park had 36 inches of snowfall from the late season snowstorm. Weather Forecast Office in Marquette had daily record snowfall of 2.7 inches with a record cold high temperature of 36°. 5.8 inches of snow fell at Bergland Dam, 5.5 inches fell at Houghton and 1.2 inches in Marquette. A late winter storm deposited 13 inches of snow at Herman, 12 inches at Ironwood and Wakefield, and 11 inches at Bergland. The snow established new single season snowfall records at Herman with 384.0 inches, Ironwood with 301.8 inches, and Bergland with 284.9 inches. It broke single season snowfall records set just last year of 347.0, 291.9 and 284.2 inches respectively.

1998 - Two trees 12 inches in diameter were uprooted and fell on a trailer in a severe thunderstorm 2 miles east of Ironwood in the early evening.

2000 – Severe storms drop deposit hail and topple trees across West Michigan during the early morning hours. Northeast of Grand Rapids a sign from McDonalds is blown down. Click here for a radar loop of the early morning storms on the 12th.

Later in the day more severe weather with flash flooding, tornadoes and downburst winds hit Lower Michigan. A weak tornado moved through an open field near Gobles in Allegan County. Near Manistee a storm spotter reports a wind gust of 86 mph. There are several reports of large hail from Barry and Allegan counties. The largest hail reports are from Whittemore and Prescott in northern Lower Michigan, where the golf ball size hail falls. Click here for a radar loop of the afternoon and evening storms on the 12th. The slideshow on the left has more images of these severe storms.

2003 - On May 10th and 11th a deepening low pressure center moved northeast from the plains into eastern Upper Michigan. By the time the precipitation ended during the afternoon on 12th, Herman in Baraga County had received an impressive 4.88 inches of rain. Some other rainfall totals included 4.71 inches at Ironwood, 3.79 inches at Paint Lake in Iron County, 3.62 inches at the Marquette National Weather Service, 3.49 inches at Watton in Baraga county, 3.30 inches at Phoenix in Keweenaw County and at Wakefield in Gogebic County, 2.60 inches at Hancock, 2.20 inches in the city of Marquette, and.0.94 inch at Munising. This heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding across the western Upper Michigan. A number of roads washed out and closed, including Highway M-28 in Ontonagon County between Bruce Crossing and Bergland and M-26 between Eagle Harbor and Eagle River in Keweenaw County. Flood waters as deep as 3 feet inundated downtown L'Anse as Linden Creek overflowed its banks. Other rivers that flooded include the Sturgeon River, the middle branch of the Ontonagon River, the Black River, the Paint River, the Trap Rock River, the Brule River, the Montreal River, and the Menominee River.

2004 - A strong upper disturbance and a surface low pressure system over the plains moved northeast through Minnesota. Ahead of the storm Michigan experiences a record warm day, both for the balmy overnight lows and the steamy afternoon highs. Minimum temperature records include Grand Rapids with 64°, Muskegon 64°, and Lansing 63°. Afternoon records include Alpena 87°, and Marquette 84°. An approaching attendant cold front triggered the outbreak of showers and thunderstorms late in the afternoon and evening. A few of these thunderstorms became severe, with some wind damage reported west of Nisula along M-38 in southern Houghton County and large hail just south of Rockland in Ontonagon County. Numerous trees were knocked down 2 miles west of Nisula. In West Michigan there was a wind gust of 60mph reported near Weidman in Isabella County. Sand Lake reported 3/4 inch (penny size) hail. Click here to see a radar loop of the storms on this day.

2006 - A strong low pressure system originating over the northern Plains tracked toward Upper Michigan on the 11th. Strong winds from the storm knocked down numerous trees and power lines in central and southern Menominee County on the 11th. Wet heavy snow on the 11th and 12th caused tree limbs to break off at numerous locations across western Upper Michigan while frequent power outages were reported in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties. The heaviest snow occurred at Ironwood where nearly 8 inches accumulated. Elsewhere, 3 to 5 inches of snow was reported over higher terrain locations of the west. Heavy rain exceeding 6 inches in some areas resulted in widespread flooding across northern Marquette County on the 11th and 12th. Significant road damage occurred on County Road 550 between Big Bay and Marquette with a washout reported near County Road KS and a mudslide reported near Eagles Nest Road. Other smaller creeks inundated portions of County Road 550. Washouts were also reported along County Road 510, Loma Farms Road at the Big Garlic River, Homeier Road near the Yellow Dog River, the County Road GGA Bridge at Clark Creek, and Dump Road in Big Bay. The Chocolay River at Harvey exceeded a flood stage of 9 feet on the morning of the 12th and then crested at nearly 12 feet on the evening of the 12th before subsiding below flood stage by the evening of the 14th. In addition to flooding the DNR public fishing pier on Highway M-28, water also inundated a portion of Timber Lane in Harvey, flooding a few properties and a home in that area. Damage to the home was minor and limited to the first floor. Heavy rain of 2 to 3 inches also fell across portions of Keweenaw, Houghton and Baraga counties. The Keweenaw County Sheriff's Department reported a washout of Highway US-41 at French Annie Creek just south of Copper Harbor. Property damage of $60,000 occurred in Keweenaw County.

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