The 1904 flood, blowing and drifting snow, and tornadoes top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service archives here are the Michigan weather events that happened on March 28.
In 1904, heavy rain and temperatures in the 50s during the last week of March combined with the melting of a deep snowpack to cause some of the worst flooding on record along the Grand and Kalamazoo Rivers. About half the city of Grand Rapids was underwater as the river reached an all-time record crest of 19.6 feet, which was two feet higher than the previous record and 4.6 feet above flood stage. Water covered half of the city and flood waters reached 2,500 houses and 14,000 people. Many people suffered from hunger and exposure. Several factories and between 200 and 300 business were flooded. Loses totaled 1.8 million dollars. Lansing has the worst flood in 135 years of record. Battle Creek is also inundated by floodwaters. In 2004, Grand Valley State University retook the classic photographs, you can see them here: New Perspectives on the 1904 Flood in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In 1920, one of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history strikes from Wisconsin to Georgia, killing more than 150 people. In Michigan, at least a dozen people were killed and hundreds of homes were either damaged or destroyed. The worst hit areas in Michigan included Saint Johns in Clinton County, Maple Grove and Orangeville in Barry County, and Fenton in Genesee County. In the Upper Peninsula a small break occurred in the Manistique Dam after some logs piled up against it. A torrent of water soon poured into Manistique with flooding and rising water all day in the town. Traffic was finally halted by evening as the bridge was closed down.
Canadian high pressure settles into the northern plains in 1923, producing an Arctic chill for the northern Great Lakes. Numerous records are broken and still stand today. Low temperature records include Grand Rapids with 8 degrees, Muskegon 8 degrees, and Sault Ste. Marie minus 11 degrees. Even more records are broken for the chilly high temperatures. These records include Grand Rapids 20 degrees, Muskegon 23 degrees, Lansing 18 degrees, Alpena 8 degrees, Detroit 19 degrees, Houghton Lake 16 degrees, and Sault Ste. Marie 4 degrees.
In 1928, an early season tornado outbreak hit Southern Lower Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Fourteen tornadoes were recorded in Michigan from Mason and Oceana Counties in West Central Lower Michigan to Genesee and Oakland Counties in Southeast Lower. Three of the Michigan tornadoes were estimated to be as strong as F4 including one that hit Genesee and Oakland Counties. That tornado started near Fenton and moved 10 miles northeast across far northwest Oakland County. Four deaths were recorded from this particular tornado including one person in an overturned car, probably just the second tornado related death in a car at that point in U.S. history. Specifically for Southeast Lower Michigan, tornadoes hit Saginaw, Genesee, Oakland and Shiawassee Counties. In total across the state there were 13 deaths and 59 injuries.
The temperature soared to 82 degrees in Detroit in 1945. Flint also records a record high of 79 degrees for the date. Record warm low temperatures were also recorded at a few cities. Lansing saw a record of 58 degrees and Houghton Lake 62 degrees. For Houghton Lake this is the warmest low temperature for the month of March.
One year later in 1946, more record temperatures are broken across Michigan. The temperature soared to 82 degrees in Alpena, 80 degrees at Houghton Lake, 75 degrees at Sault Ste. Marie. Alpena also set a record for the warmest low temperature for the date with a reading of a mild 50 degrees.
In 2000, a strong early spring storm strengthened as it moved from Wisconsin, across Upper Michigan, to eastern Lake Superior, where it stalled and weakened. Showers and an occasional rumble of thunder ahead of the storm center changed to snow as strong northwest winds behind the low pushed cold Canadian air across the U.P. The strong and gusty northwest winds caused considerable blowing and drifting snow. The combination of heavy wet snow and strong northwest winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph caused scattered power outages over the western Upper Peninsula, and blowing and drifting snow was responsible for school closures and flight delays or cancellations at the Houghton County Airport. Snowfall reports included 8 inches at Calumet and Phoenix and 12 inches in Painesdale. The highway department reported 12 inches of new snow along highway M-26 southwest of Houghton. The snow started in the afternoon of March 27 and ended early in the morning on March 28.