Three early season tornadoes, a blizzard, and record warmth 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 Michigan weather events that happened on March 15.
Cold and snow continue during a very wintry month in 1912. Lansing set a daily snowfall record with 11.5 inches, Grand Rapids with 5.2 inches and with Detroit 6.9 inches. Lansing fell to minus 1 degree the next morning.
In 1939, the blizzard on March 14 and March 15 produced 20 inches of snow in Republic, 19 inches in Marquette and Munising had 20 inches. Escanaba had 13 inches of snow. A 42 mph gust was reported with the blizzard in Escanaba, a record wind gust for March.
More than 100 hours of continuous snow in 1988, finally came to an end at Marquette. During this time the city was buried under 43 inches.
Four days of record warmth culminates on this day in 1990, with highs of 77 degrees at Lansing, 75 degrees at Grand Rapids and 72 degrees at Muskegon. The temperature rose to 77 degrees in Detroit, which is the record high for the day. This marked the fourth day in a row (March 12 to March 15) that record daily highs were set.
In 2000, a storm system that developed over the Northern Plains moved quickly east across the Great Lakes region. The storm dropped 8 to 10 inches of snow on parts of west and north central Upper Michigan while the south and east received from 2 to 6 inches of new snow. Snowfall reports included 10 inches in Big Bay and Ironwood, 8 inches in Baraga, Ontonagon, Silver City, Paint Lake in northwest Iron County, Kenton and Two Heart. Estimates of around 8 inches of snowfall were reported near Grand Marais.
A winter storm system that developed over the central plains in 2002, tracked across central Lake Michigan and Lower Michigan and pulled moisture from the Gulf of Mexico north into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Arctic air already in place and gusty northwest winds across Lake Superior, combined to enhance the snowfall. The snow was wet and heavy, causing hazardous driving conditions and made snow removal more difficult. Marquette recorded 12.8 inches of snow on the day to raise its seasonal snowfall to 276.8 inches. A daily water equivalent was also set at 1.30 inches. This sets a new record for seasonal snowfall for the city. More snow blankets the city in the weeks that follow, raising the season snowfall to a whopping 319.8 inches shattering the 1996-1997 record. Other snowfall reports included 14 inches at Ironwood and Iron River, 12 inches in Ontonagon, 18 inches in Rockland. Houghton and Phoenix reported 12 inches of new snow. Baraga reported 16 inches. Deerton and Sagola observed 10 inches and Grand Marais received 8 inches.
In 2012, thunderstorms produced three rare early season tornadoes. An EF0 caused minor damage in the town of Ida in Monroe County. In Lapeer County, trees were uprooted and a home was moved off of its foundation when an EF2 struck on the same evening. The most destructive tornado, an EF3, struck the town of Dexter with winds estimated between 135-140 mph, causing extensive structural damage and destroying multiple homes. Of the thirteen March tornadoes ever recorded in SE Michigan, four of them occurred in March 2012. Click this link for a radar loop of the storms on this day. The attached slideshow has a few severe weather maps for the day.