Whether you’re a fan of winter weather or you’re constantly counting down the days until springtime, there’s no denying that snowstorms can wreak major havoc on life here in the Great Lakes State. When temperatures plummet and roads are coated with ice, it’s tough to escape the extreme forces of Mother Nature. As the seasons march along, let’s take time to revisit five of the worst winter storms in Michigan history.
1. The Blizzard of 1978
If you were around in the late 70s, you undoubtedly recall the winter monster that took Michigan for a wild ride in 1978. While the storm made its way through the Great Lakes Region as a whole, it certainly took its toll on Michiganders – in fact, the Muskegon area measured a whopping 52 inches of snowfall between January 25th and January 29th. Schools and colleges canceled classes, a state of emergency was declared, and approximately 20 Michiganders lost their lives due to car accidents and other storm-related events.
2. The Blizzard of 1967
Older Michiganders might also recall the events of winter 1967, when the state was struck by extreme snowfall and freezing temperatures between January 26th and 27th. The blizzard’s intensity was influenced by unseasonably warm temps in Michigan in the days before the cold front arrived, which added to the sense of shock experienced by many residents. Across the state, snowfall totals reached upwards of 20 inches, with the Lansing area topping 24 inches.
3. The White Hurricane of 1913
Known officially as the Great Lakes Storm of 1913, this extreme weather event truly wreaked havoc on the region between November 6th and November 10th of – you guessed it – 1913. While we often associate blizzards with loads of snow and intense temperatures, the most damaging element of this particular storm was its hurricane-strength winds, which reached up to 100 MPH. Throughout the Great Lakes Region, including Michigan, there were 12 storm-influenced shipwrecks and approximately 250 fatalities.
4. The North American Blizzard of 1999
Let’s jump forward to a more recent storm as we examine the North American Blizzard of 1999, which took its toll throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, and portions of Ontario and Quebec. The storm extended from January 2nd until January 4th, rendering it a relatively brief storm – but it still managed to dump upwards of ten inches of snowfall in towns throughout Michigan. In addition to many closures and travel delays, the 1999 storm resulted in a tragic 78 deaths throughout the affected region.
5. The Upper Peninsula Blizzard of 1938
It’s no secret that the Upper Peninsula transforms into an entirely new world during the winter months, and these unique conditions have led to plenty of severe weather events throughout the generations. In January of 1938, portions of the U.P. were met with nearly 40 inches of snow over the course of two days, while temperatures remained frigid and businesses shuttered as the storm passed. Ultimately, there were only two fatalities as a result of the storm. While this loss of life is undeniably tragic, these scary conditions surely had the potential to cause even greater damage.
Do you or your loved ones remember any of these intense winter storms in Michigan? Are you a fan of snowy weather or do you prefer to bask in the sunshine of warmer months? We’re always eager to hear from our readers, so share your thoughts with us in the Facebook comments. If you’d like us to cover another event in Michigan’s history, fill out our nomination form here.