Flooding, large hail, a massive tornado and record heat top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service and Storm Prediction Center archives here are the Michigan weather events that happened on April 18.
In 1880, more than two dozen tornadoes touch down from Arkansas and Kansas to Michigan and Wisconsin. A massive F4 tornado devastated the town of Marshfield, Mo., killing 65 people. Overall, 100 people perish in the outbreak. In Michigan a tornado hit Chester, in Eaton County where barns were destroyed and livestock killed. A quarter-mile wide swath of trees was leveled in a forest by the tornado.
In 1975, 2.69 inches of precipitation fell in Flint. This is the maximum precipitation record for the month of April in Flint. Lansing also observed a daily precipitation record with 2.53 inches.
An early season heat wave continued across the Great Lakes in 1976. Record highs set include Alpena with 85 degrees, and Sault Ste. Marie with 83 degrees.
In 1995, snow fell across northwest upper Michigan on April 18 as low pressure tracked from Iowa northeast across northern Lower Michigan. Heavy snow was confined to the Keweenaw Peninsula, where nine inches accumulated at Bumbletown and seven inches accumulated at Chassel. Accumulating snow fell as far east as Marquette, where nearly two inches was reported. Lightning ignited an electrical fire that damaged the McCann Elementary School in St. Ignace causing 5,000 dollars in damage.
In 2002, the heat wave continued from the Midwest to the the east as high pressure off the Carolina blocked a frontal boundary across the Plains. West Michigan records for the date include: Lansing 86 degrees, Muskegon 84 degrees, Grand Rapids 86 degrees, Houghton Lake 86 degrees, Detroit 84 degrees and Flint 86 degrees. Some of these records will fall in 2004. That same day, widespread thunderstorms traveled across the state in waves and produced numerous reports of strong wind gusts and damage. The reports start at 10 a.m. in Manistee and continue until 2 a.m. on April 19, in Flushing. Most of the reports were for trees blown down, the highest wind gust is from Kewadin with a reading of 65 mph. There are several reports of large hail primarily raging in size from 0.75 inches to 1 inch in diameter. The largest is 1.75 inches in Vienna. In the Upper Peninsula trees were blown down along Thousand Island Lake in the midafternoon. 1 inch diameter hail (quarter sized) was reported in Cedar River in the midafternoon. Hail 1 inch in diameter (quarter sized) was reported in the late afternoon in Agate. A severe thunderstorm with gusts up to 69 mph caused a 6 inch diameter fir tree to be blown down in Au Train in the early evening. Golfball sized hail (1.75 inch) was reported 4 miles south of Mass City in the early evening. Ping pong ball sized hail, 1.5 inch diameter was reported 2 miles north of Pelkie, 6 miles southeast of Rockland and 2 miles southeast of Mass City in the early evening. As a low pressure system moved toward Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the northern plains, scattered morning showers gave way to afternoon sunshine. Temperatures in the warm air ahead of the storm system rose into the 70s. The attached slideshow has a few severe weather maps for the day. Click this link for a radar animation of the thunderstorms passing over Michigan.
In 2004, more record heat hit Michigan with readings tying or surpassing the records set in 2002. Grand Rapids saw a high of 86 degrees, Detroit 86 degrees, and Flint 87 degrees. As a low pressure area from the central plains and its attendant warm front approached Upper Michigan, showers and thunderstorms developed near the Wisconsin border. The showers and thunderstorms spread northeast across Upper Michigan during the morning before weakening and ending in the afternoon. Several of the thunderstorms became severe and dropped hailstones as large as golf balls. Quarter sized hail (1 inch) fell at 8:30 a.m. CST 4 miles west of Iron River and in Iron River at 10:00 a.m. CST and 1.75 inch hail (golf ball sized) fell in Stambaugh at 9:50 a.m. CST. Half-dollar sized (1.25 inch) hail was reported in Arnold at 11:15 a.m. EST. There was a lull late in the afternoon, but the approach of a cold front set off another round of thunderstorms in the late evening. Some of these storms over western Upper Michigan also became severe, with golf ball sized hail and damaging winds. Thunderstorm wind gusts in excess of 60 mph knocked down trees in a path through Gogebic and Iron Counties into Dickinson County. A number of 6 to 12 inch diameter trees were blown down along highway U.S. 141 8 miles north of Amasa at 1957 CST. Several 6 to 8 inch diameter trees were blown down 3 miles north of Channing in the mid-evening. Golf-ball sized hail (1.75 inch) was reported and several large trees were blown down in Watersmeet in the early evening. The storm system produced heavy rainfall as well as severe thunderstorms. As the low moved from the plains into the Upper Great Lakes, warm and very moist air from the Gulf of Mexico spread northeast as well. Heavy rain under the stronger storms left standing water in yards and parking lots. This first round of convection diminished during the afternoon as the storms moved east. The approach of the low pressure system’s cold front then set the stage for another round of thunderstorms in the late evening. Heavy rain also fell under the most intense thunderstorms. Total rainfall amounts were excessive at many places west of Marquette and Iron Mountain. Marenisco in Gogebic County was inundated with 2.90 inches of rain. Some other impressive rainfall totals include 2.64 inches at Ironwood, 2.57 inches at Pelkie, 2.20 inches at Amasa, 2.07 inches at Baraga, and 2.00 inches at Watton. This heavy rainfall caused some minor flooding of smaller streams and low-lying areas. The runoff from the precipitation and the melting of lingering snow over the higher terrain areas caused some flooding of the larger rivers over the west half of Upper Michigan that lingered for several days after the rain ended. Minor flooding was reported along the Sturgeon River from Alston to Chassell and along the Middle Branch of the Escanaba River at Humbolt. Minor flooding was also reported along the Michigamme River from Republic to Witch Lake, along the Trap Rock River at Lake Linden, on the Chocolay River at Harvey and along the Paint River at Crystal Falls. The attached slideshow has a few severe weather maps for the day. Click here for a radar loop of the storms on this day.