Michigan might not be known for hurricanes or earthquakes, but we definitely experience our fair share of extreme weather. In fact, some of our storms have even gone down in history. Check out a few of the catastrophic weather events that have happened in our region:
- Great Lakes Storm of 1913 – Nicknamed the “Big Blow,” “Freshwater Fury” and the “White Hurricane,” this three-day blizzard blew hurricane-force winds up to 90 mph across the Great Lakes Basin from Nov. 7 – 10, 1913. The combination of weather patterns caused white-outs and waves of up to 35 feet high. Cities and towns were buried under feet of snow. It remains the deadliest and most destructive storm to date in our region – taking hundreds of lives, sinking a dozen freighters and wrecking even more. Last year, the remains of one of the lost freighters, a 436-foot steamship named Hyrdus, was discovered by a man from Canton, Mich.
- The 1953 Flint-Beecher Tornado – Ranking in the top 10 deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history, the Flint-Beecher tornado touched down in Genesse County, Michigan on June 8, 1953 and continued on a deadly 27-mile path. According to the National Weather Service, the F5-rate tornado caused 116 fatalities, 844 injuries and $19 million in damage (equivalent to about $170 million today). Most of the casualties and damage occurred in the community of Beecher, a suburb on the northern edge of the Flint, Mich.
- The 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak – On April 11, 1965, numerous tornadoes touched ground across the Midwest, marking it as one of the worst tornado events on record. According to US Tornadoes, the 12 hours of twister touchdowns claimed 260 lives and injured thousands more in Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio.
- The Detroit Flood of 2014 – On Aug. 11, 2014, communities across southeast Michigan were underwater – literally. According to the National Weather Service, the hardest hit areas saw 4-6 inches of rain within a four-hour period. Basements were flooded; streets and freeways were shut down; and cars were buried in thick, muddy water. The flood caused more than 10 billion gallons of sewage overflow and more than $1 billion worth of damage throughout Macomb, Wayne and Oakland counties. People were left stranded and cars were abandoned
- The March 2017 Windstorm. On March 8, 2017, wind gusts of up to 68 mph swept across Michigan, causing the largest weather-related outage in DTE Energy’s history. The winds ripped through the state – uprooting and knocking down trees, causing structural damage to homes and businesses, and even flipping tractor-trailers. Typically, high winds are coupled with thunderstorms, but as mLive pointed out, the March 8 was considered a “pure wind storm” and covered thousands of miles of ground – adding to its severity factor.
When people think of famous, historic disasters, Michigan might not be the first place that comes to mind. But, we all know that Michigan can be unpredictable, and when that weather strikes, we want to be sure we are prepared.
Kayla Chriss contributed to this story.