A raging blizzard, bitter wind chills, and record cold 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 Jan. 22.
In 1883, bitter cold arctic air sends the temperature down to minus 14 degrees at Lansing and minus 8 degrees at Detroit. The high for the day at Detroit is a record cold 0 degrees and Lansing a record minus 4 degrees. This is the coldest high temperature ever in the month of January and even the entire year at Lansing.
There was a raging blizzard in 1936. Travel was brought to a halt in Iron Mountain, Escanaba, Menominee and Sault Ste. Marie as road crews were pulled off roads. This blizzard was judged “the worst in years.”
Low pressure moved east across Upper Michigan in 1997. Much colder air entered west Upper Michigan behind it. Northerly winds across Lake Superior produced heavy lake enhanced snow across Baraga County where 14 inches fell at L’anse and 13 inches fell at Herman, most of which occurred in a 12 hour period between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Most of Northwest Upper Michigan including Marquette, Houghton and Ontonagon received 8 inches from this storm.
Another Alberta Clipper storm dove across Upper Michigan on Jan. 21, 2004. Once the wind turned northwest behind the associated cold front and another bone chilling air mass invaded the Upper Great Lakes, lake effect snow became widespread and heavy at times, especially in areas favored by a northwest wind. Wind gusts as high as 35 mph caused extensive blowing and drifting of the fine powdery snow, and frequent “white-out” conditions were common over the Keweenaw Peninsula until late in the day on Jan. 22. Highway M-28 was closed across Alger and Schoolcraft Counties because of occasional near zero visibility and extensive drifting snow. By the time lake effect snow began to wind down late in the day on Jan. 23, storm total snowfall reached around 16 inches at Pelkie near the Baraga and Houghton County line, 13 inches at Two Heart, 12 inches at Phoenix, 11 inches at Wetmore and 10 inches at Newberry. Temperatures fell below zero by dawn on Jan 22, and wind chills reached as low as 30 to 40 below zero.
In 2005, a clipper system originating in northwest Canada moved across the Midwest and dropped heavy synoptic and lake enhanced snow over Iron, Menominee, Delta and southern Schoolcraft counties on the night of Jan. 21 and the morning of Jan. 22. Twelve-hour snowfall reports included 6 inches in the Crystal Falls area in Iron County, 7 inches in Stephenson in Menominee County, and 8 inches in Cooks near the Schoolcraft/Delta County line. The storm system then moved through Southern Lower Michigan. A blizzard drops a foot of snow with strong winds creating drifts up to 4 feet deep. Daily record snowfall is reported at several cities including Grand Rapids with 12.3 inches, Lansing 12.6 inches, Alpena 7.8 inches and Flint 9.0 inches. This storm dropped 10 to 12 inches across most of the Thumb and Metro Detroit regions. Port Hope in Huron County received a whopping 15.5 inches of snow.
Heavy snow fell across parts of Muskegon, Ottawa and Kent counties including the Grand Rapids metro area in 2011. A new daily snowfall record was set in Muskegon, with 10.7 inches. Snowfall rates exceeded one inch per hour during the morning hours. Temperatures in the teens and wind chills near zero also contributed to the hazardous road conditions.
In 2012, the high temperature in Flint rose to only 10 degrees. This tied the record minimum high temperature for the date.