Record rain, a grounded tug vessel 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 Dec 15.
The wood, tug and cargo vessel Reliance, while carrying lumberjacks and oil drums in 1922, was bound Puckasaw, Ont., for the Soo, when she grounded in a storm at Lizard Island, Ontario in Lake Superior. The crew and passengers endured a gale and temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees before rescue. Still, four died of exposure.
A high temperature of 61.2 degrees was recorded in 1933. This was a record high for this date in Detroit.
In 1971, for the second time in five days, record high temperatures are followed by record rains. The temperature hits 60 degrees at Grand Rapids and Flint, 64 degrees at Lansing and 58 degrees in Muskegon. Record rain also falls with Muskegon observing 1.48 inches, Lansing 1.17 inches, Alpena 1.19 inches, Sault Ste. Marie 0.90 inches, Houghton Lake 1.39 inches and Flint 1.74 inches. For Flint this is the greatest daily precipitation ever recorded in the month of December.
A winter storm drops from eight to 12 inches of snow from Grand Haven to Ludington in 1987. Muskegon sets a daily snowfall record of 12.1 inches of snow. A record 6.7 inches also falls in Grand Rapids and 7.6 inches at Houghton Lake.
In 1989, a couple of low pressure systems spread heavy snow across the northeastern U.S. Up to two feet of snow was reported along Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio, and up to 10 inches was reported in Connecticut. Heavy snow squalls developed over Michigan for the third day in a row. In Michigan, Three Oaks reported 25 inches of snow in two days according to the National Weather Summary and Storm Data.
In 1996, low pressure moved from Kansas on the afternoon of the Dec. 14, to southwest Wisconsin by 2 a.m. on Dec. 15, and crossed eastern Upper Michigan during the evening of Dec. 15. Heavy snow developed around midnight on Dec. 15, across the west half of Upper Michigan and ended by noon the same day. East of Marquette and Iron Mountain, precipitation was mostly rain. The highest snow totals included Phoenix in Keweenaw County with 12 inches, 10 inches in northwest Iron County about 20 miles northwest of Iron River, and 9 inches at Pelkie in Houghton County and Three Lakes in Baraga County. The remainder of the affected area received between six and eight inches of snow in less than 12 hours.
A slow moving area of low pressure southwest of Michigan provided an extended period of southeast winds to the region in 2005. Heavy lake enhanced snow off of Lake Huron pounded much of eastern Upper Michigan on the night of the Dec. 14 through Dec. 15. Eastern Chippewa and Mackinac Counties (mainly east of I-75) received about a foot of snow over a 24 hour period. Lake enhancement off of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan brought heavy snow to portions of the Keweenaw Peninsula and south central Upper Michigan on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15. Storm totals included 16 inches at Phoenix, 14 inches at Calumet, and 10 inches each at Wallace in Menominee County and Gladstone in Delta County. Southeast winds gusting as high as 35 mph caused near-blizzard conditions at times during the afternoon and evening hours of the Dec. 14 along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Many area schools were either closed or delayed due to the storm system, and numerous minor traffic accidents were reported.
A passage of a strong Arctic cold front caused blizzard to near-blizzard conditions over western Upper Michigan on the Dec 15, 2008. Dangerously cold wind chills also developed on Dec 15 and Dec. 16 with the arrival of colder air in the wake of the front. An observer ten miles south of Grand Marais measured eight inches of snow in less than 18 hours. Northwest winds gusting over 30 mph at times also caused considerable blowing of snow and reduced visibilities. The observer eight miles southwest of Ontonagon measured 11 inches of snow in the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. on Dec. 15. West winds gusting over 30 mph caused reduced visibility in blowing snow as well. Schools were closed in Ontonagon on Dec. 15 due to the harsh winter conditions.