It’s Been 100 Years Since the Biggest May Blizzard That Ever Pounded Michigan
While snow in Michigan during the month of May isn't unheard of, a blizzard in May is a rare occurrence. And 100 years ago this week, Southern Michigan got pounded with snow.
The Forecast Called for 'Flurries'
Weather predictions and weather forecasting equipment weren't what they are today back in 1923.
(This may be the time when you interject with a quip about how inaccurate weather forecasts can be today. Go ahead, I'll wait.)
But the forecast for May 9, 1923, actually called for 'flurries' across Southern Lower Michigan. And oh boy, did we get flurries. Lots and lots of flurries.
Not only were snowfall records broken in Flint, Detroit, Bay City, Lansing, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids, but May 9 was the biggest snow day of the entire calendar year. According to WOOD-TV's meteorologist Bill Steffen, more snow fell between midnight and midnight beginning on May 9 than any other day in 1923.
Here are the snowfall totals for that day:
- Flint - 12 inches
- Lansing - 11.5 inches
- Bay City/Saginaw - 9 inches
- Detroit - 6 inches
- Grand Rapids - 5.5 inches
- Muskegon - 5 inches
Jim Goodspeed of the Gratiot County Historical Society was kind enough to provide us with the following photos of Michigan, taken on that very day 100 years ago in 1923.
A Massive Cold Front
Steffen notes that a large cold front moved across the Lower Peninsula on May 8, causing the temperature to plummet from 62 degrees at 1 pm to 34 degrees at 6 pm.
Although the storm did knock down some trees and take out some electric, telephone, and telegraph lines, there was very little damage to Michigan's fruit crops.
Temps climbed back up into the 60s the following day in parts of the state so the snow didn't stick around long.