1997: The Year in Review

Jeff Boyne, Bill Deedler, & Mike Evans The Ice Storm on March 13-14th (more details on this event can be found in the March 1997 Summary located later in this article) and the tornado outbreak on July 2nd (more details on this event can be found in the July 1997 Summary located later in this article) were the most memorable events of 1997. However, there were other events that people will likely remember about this year. Here are some of those events:

1) A Snowy January: Flint had their 8th snowiest January on record and Detroit had their 10th snowiest (20.8 inches) January on record. See the January 1997 Summary.

2) Mid to Late February Flooding: From the 22nd through the 26th, heavy rains onto partially frozen ground caused flooding across southeast Lower Michigan. See the February 1997 Summary.

3) A Very Cold May: Flint had their coldest May on record. Detroit had their 5th coldest May on record. See the May 1997 Summary.

4) A Cold August in Flint: Flint had an average temperature of 65.0 degrees during August 1997. This made it the 2nd coldest August on record in Flint. It was only 2nd to August 1967 which had an average temperature of 64.8 degrees. See the August 1997 Summary.

5) Flint has 2nd Snowiest Day in October: On October 27th, Flint received 2.8 inches of snow. This was the 2nd snowiest October day in Flint. The snowiest October day occurred on October 19, 1989 when 3.5 inches of snow fell. See the October 1997 Summary.

6) Flint has its 9th Coldest November on Record: Flint averaged 35.3 degrees during the month. This was cold enough that they had their 9th coldest November on record. This is the third November in a row to place in the top 10 coldest Novembers. November 1995 placed in 2nd place with 31.9 degree average and November 1996 placed right behind it in third place with a 32.7 degree average. See the November 1997 Summary.



1997 Monthly Temperatures & Precipitation

    Temperature Precipitation
Month Location Average (oF) Departure from Normal (oF) Total (Inches) Departure from Normal (Inches)
January Tri-Cities 21.7 +1.1 2.63 +1.00
Flint 21.3 -0.2 1.73 +0.34
White Lake 20.2 NA* 2.41 NA*
Detroit 23.0 +0.1 2.44 +0.68
February Tri-Cities 26.6 +4.1 6.10 +4.73
Flint 27.1 +3.6 3.22 +1.94
White Lake 26.1 NA* 3.04 NA*
Detroit 30.6 +5.2 4.04 +2.30
March Tri-Cities 33.8 +0.8 2.94 +0.62
Flint 34.0 0.0 2.39 +0.23
White Lake 32.8 NA* 4.52 NA*
Detroit 37.2 +1.5 3.46 +0.91
April Tri-Cities 44.5 -1.2 1.75 -1.10
Flint 42.8 -3.2 1.21 -1.73
White Lake 42.8 NA* 1.35 NA*
Detroit 45.8 -1.5 1.56 -1.39
May Tri-Cities 50.2 -6.9 5.15 +2.48
Flint 48.8 -8.0 3.33 +0.68
White Lake 49.2 NA* 4.67 NA*
Detroit 52.0 -6.4 5.23 +2.31
June Tri-Cities 69.4 +3.0 1.55 -1.36
Flint 67.1 +1.2 1.57 -1.64
White Lake 66.8 NA* 2.50 NA*
Detroit 69.5 +1.9 3.17 -0.44
July Tri-Cities 70.6 -0.6 4.19 +2.04
Flint 69.5 -1.1 2.70 -0.01
White Lake 69.1 NA* 2.07 NA*
Detroit 72.2 -0.1 2.62 -0.56
August Tri-Cities 65.6 -3.4 4.83 +1.63
Flint 65.0 -3.6 2.72 -0.77
White Lake 64.6 NA* 3.16 NA*
Detroit 68.1 -2.4 3.22 -0.21
September Tri-Cities 60.6 -0.4 5.80 +1.89
Flint 59.8 -1.6 4.31 +0.75
White Lake 59.5 NA* 5.81 NA*
Detroit 62.7 -0.5 3.49 +0.60
October Tri-Cities 50.0 +0.2 1.68 -0.79
Flint 48.1 -2.0 1.61 -0.57
White Lake 48.5 NA* 2.36 NA*
Detroit 51.8 +0.6 1.97 -0.13
November Tri-Cities 35.6 -2.8 2.18 -0.38
Flint 35.5 -3.9 1.05 -1.55
White Lake 34.8 NA* 1.29 NA*
Detroit 37.1 -3.1 0.95 -1.72
December Tri-Cities 31.1 +4.9 0.78 -1.59
Flint 29.9 +2.7 1.06 -1.05
White Lake 29.7 NA* 1.43 NA*
Detroit 32.3 +4.0 1.89 -0.93
1997 Yearly Averages Tri-Cities 46.6 -0.3 39.58 9.4
Flint 45.7 -1.4 26.90 -4.13
White Lake 45.3 NA* 34.61 NA*
Detroit 48.5 -0.1 34.04 1.66
* Departures from Normal at White Lake have not been established.

1997 Temperatures were near normal in much of southeast Lower Michigan:

Overall in 1997, temperatures were close to normal across southeast Lower Michigan. Both Tri-Cities Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport were just 0.1 degree below degree of normal. Meanwhile, Flint was 1.4 degrees below normal. This was a result of having the coldest May, the 2nd coldest August, and the 9th coldest November on record.

From January through March, southeast Lower Michigan was generally located on the east side of a trough located over the Plain states. The southwest flow on the east side of this trough brought several storm systems across southern Lower Michigan. These storm systems brought with them above normal temperatures from the south into the area.

Just like the last 2 years, April and May saw northwest winds aloft. This flow pattern continually brought polar air masses into the area from north and central Canada. As a result, temperatures during this month were below normal. This was especially true in May when temperatures were between 6 and 8 degrees below normal.

In June, the upper level winds shifted from the northwest to the west and southwest. This helped temperatures to average 1 to 3 degrees above normal for the month.

During July, the upper level winds were primarily zonal (this means that the winds were blowing from west to east) across the northern tier of the United States. This flow pattern kept temperatures within a degree of normal.

In August, the upper level winds shifted to the northwest and they remained there through mid September. This flow pattern caused cold air masses from central and northern Canada to move southeastward through southeast Lower Michigan. As a result, temperatures averaged 2 to 4 degrees during August and the first ½ of September. Temperatures were so cold in August that Flint had their coldest August on record. This is in contrast to having their hottest August just 2 years ago (1995)!

In mid September, the upper level winds shifted from the northwest to the west and southwest. This helped the temperatures in the 2nd half of the month to recover close to normal.

During the first ½ of October, the upper level winds were out of the southwest. This resulted in temperatures averaging 10 to 15 degrees above normal during this time.

From the second ½ of October to late November, the upper level winds were predominantly from the northwest. This brought cold Canadian air masses from central and western Canada into southeast Lower Michigan. The temperatures during the second ½ of October was so much below normal that temperatures ended up being around normal. The only exception was Flint which averaged about 2 degrees below normal. In November, temperatures in southeast Lower Michigan averaged between 2.5 and 4 degrees below normal. Flint experienced its 9th coldest November on record.

During much of December, the upper level winds were predominately from the west and southwest. This kept the arctic air masses primarily north of the US/Canadian boarder and allowed both Pacific and Gulf of Mexico air masses to remain over southeast Lower Michigan throughout much of the month. Temperatures during the month, averaged between 2 ½ and 5 degrees above normal. These averages would have been slightly higher if it were not for two glancing blows by arctic air masses late in the month.

1997 Precipitation was quite variable across southeast Lower Michigan:

During 1997, the precipitation was quite variable across southeast Lower Michigan. Precipitation amounts ranged from 26.90 inches at Flint Bishop International Airport (this was just over 4 inches below normal) to 39.58 inches at Tri-Cities International Airport (this was just over 9 inches above normal. If it was not for a dry December, the precipitation amount would have been over 40 inches for the year.

From January to March, the storm track was over Michigan. As a result, the precipitation during these months were above normal. This created flooding problems in late February (see the February 1997).

During April, the storm track shifted well south of the state. As a result, southeast Lower Michigan ended up seeing between 1 and 2 inches below normal.

In May, the storm track move back north across southeast Lower Michigan. As a result, the precipitation for the month was once again above normal. Between 3 and 5 inches of precipitation fell during the month. This was our second wettest month of 1997.

In June, the main storm track was south and east of southeast Lower Michigan. As a result, precipitation ended up being below normal. During the month, rainfall amounts ranged from 1.55 inches at Tri-Cities International Airport (1.36 inches below normal) to 3.17 inches at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (0.44 inches below normal).

From July through September, the storm track was located over northern Lower and Upper Michigan. With the storm track being in this location, most of precipitation fell across the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Area. This area saw between 3 and 6 inches of rain each month. Meanwhile, areas to the south saw between 2 and 3 inches of rain each month.

From October through December, there was two active storm tracks across the United States. The first one was located from northwest Canada to the eastern Great Lakes. The second one extended from California to the Texas Panhandle and then northeast into the mid Atlantic states. This second storm track prevented Gulf of Mexico moisture from making it up into the Great Lakes Region; thus, there was little moisture available for the first storm track (the northern one) from producing too much precipitation. As a result, precipitation was below normal during these months. Most of the precipitation fell south of the NWS office in White Lake. This is very typical of what occurs during a strong El Niño.

The following summaries are a review of each month during 1997:

January 1997 Summary:

During January 1997, southeast Lower Michigan was in a very busy storm track. This storm track produced snow on 21 of the 31 days. Snow amounts ranged from 17.3 inches at Flint to 26.0 inches at Tri-Cities Airport. Flint had their 8th snowiest January on record and Detroit had their 10th snowiest (20.8 inches) January on record. Most of the snow across the area fell between the 9th and the 11th. During this time, 6 to 12 inches of snow fell across the area.

With this much snow, it is not surprising that precipitation averaged above normal. Precipitation amounts ranged from 1.73 inches (0.34 inches above normal) at Flint to 2.63 inches (1 inch above normal) at Tri-Cities Airport.

With the active storm track, there were some wide swings in the temperatures during the month. From the 2nd to 5th, the high temperatures were in the 50s and lower 60s across southeast Lower Michigan. On both the 4th and 5th, a record high temperature of 58 degrees was set at Tri-Cities Airport. During this time period, the Flint area reported 3 record high temperatures. On the 2nd, Flint got up to 51 degrees. This broke the old record of 48 degrees set back in 1950. On the 4th, Flint got up to 61 degrees. This broke the old record of 55 degrees set back in 1950. On the 5th, Flint got up to 59 degrees. This broke the record of 57 degrees set back in 1946. The Detroit area also recorded one record high temperature and tied another during this period. On the 4th, Detroit had a high temperature of 61 degrees. This broke the previous high record temperature set way back in 1874! On the 5th, Detroit got up to 59 degrees. This tied the record set back in 1939.

On the flip side, a brutal blast of frigid air caused the low temperatures to be below zero from the 16th to the 19th. The coldest temperature recorded during this time period was 9 below zero at Flint on January 17th.

Besides these time periods, temperatures averaged near normal at both Detroit and Flint. Detroit's monthly average was 23.0 degrees. This was 0.1 degrees above normal. Flint's monthly temperature was 21.3 degrees. This was 0.2 degrees below normal.

Even though both the Flint and Detroit areas reported near normal temperatures, the Tri-Cities and Thumb Areas averaged about a degree above normal. This was due to a warm December 1996 in which temperatures averaged about 4 degrees above normal. The warm weather during the prior month kept Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay relatively warm. As the arctic air masses plunged southward during the 2nd half of January, the temperatures were modified by the water temperatures and they could not offset the very warm temperatures that were experienced during the first 5 days of the month.

February 1997 Summary:

The active storm track of January continued into February over the region. The main storm track pivoted northward of the January position with most of the storm systems moving right over southeast Lower Michigan. This caused the considerable amount of rainfall, but lighter than normal snowfall. Rainfall amounts ranged from 3.04 inches at White Lake to 6.10 inches at Tri-Cities Airport. Snowfall amounts were generally around 5 inches in the Thumb, Flint, Detroit areas and between 5 and 14 inches across the Saginaw Valley.

On the 21st, low pressure tracked from Missouri northeast across southern Lower Michigan. The combination of heavy rain, melting snow, and frozen ground produced widespread flooding. Precipitation amounts from late on the 20th through late on the 21st ranged from 1 to 2 inches from the Flint area south through Detroit to the Ohio state-line. Farther north, precipitation amounts of 2 to over 3 inches occurred from the Saginaw Valley to the Thumb Area. Some of the highest totals included 3.10 inches at Saginaw, 2.88 inches at Vassar, and 2.83 inches at St. Charles and Essexville. The rain changed to snow before ending north of Detroit. Three to six inches of snow accumulated across the Saginaw Valley and the northern part of the Thumb.

Some of the heaviest damage from the flood occurred in northern and western Huron County. In the village of Sebewaing, the Sebewaing River overflowed its banks on the 22nd and 23rd. This caused the evacuation of residents in the Pitcher Subdivision. Also, the Bay Shore summer camp ground was heavily damaged with estimated losses of several thousands of dollars. In Caseville, 20 homeowners were evacuated early on the 23rd. In Vassar, the Cass River was above flood stage from late on the 21st through early on the 24th. This submerged part of the downtown area. Also, widespread damage was reported throughout the Saginaw Valley and northern Thumb Areas on the 21st. Minimal flooding was also reported in the Flint and Detroit areas during this time.

During the late morning of the 27th, strong winds developed across southeast Lower Michigan in the wake of a strong low pressure system that moved through the area earlier in the day. Peak winds reached 49 mph at Flint Bishop Airport and 59 mph at Detroit Metro Airport. Large trees were toppled in Monroe County and a scaffolding crashed down onto 2 parked cars in downtown Port Huron (St. Clair County). In Oakland County, 4,500 Detroit Edison customers reported power outages as tree branches and power lines were knocked down by the strong winds.

During the month, the storm systems continued to bring warmer than normal temperatures into southeast Lower Michigan. Temperatures ranged between 3.6 degrees (at Flint) and 5.2 degrees (at Detroit) above normal. The most pronounced mild period occurred from the 18th to the 21st. During this time period, temperatures at Tri-Cities Airport ranged between 42 degrees (on the 21st) and 50 degrees (on the 18th); temperatures at Flint ranged between 48 degrees (on the 20th) and 55 degrees (on the 18th); and temperatures at Detroit ranged between 50 degrees (on the 19th and 20th) and 61 degrees (on the 21st). The 61 degrees at Detroit on the 21st was just 2 degrees shy of tying a record set back in 1930.

March 1997 Summary:

During the month, the storm track shifted slightly south, but it was still located over extreme southern Lower Michigan. This shift caused the temperatures to be closer to normal. Tri-Cities Airport averaged 33.8 degrees. This was 0.8 degrees above normal. Flint Bishop Airport averaged 34.0 degrees. This was normal. Finally, Detroit Metropolitan Airport averaged 37.2 degrees. This was 1.5 degrees above normal.

Also, with the storm track shifting south, the precipitation amounts were much closer to normal. Precipitation amounts ranged from 2.39 inches (0.23 inches above normal) at Flint to 4.52 inches at White Lake (normals are not established at this location yet). Snowfall amounts in the Flint and Detroit areas ranged from 2 to 5 inches. Meanwhile, the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Area saw between 5 and 12 inches of snow.

On the 13th and 14th, low pressure tracked from the Central Plains northeast across Lower Michigan. The storm brought widespread precipitation to southeast Lower Michigan from late on the 13th through midday on the 14th. North of Detroit nearly all of the precipitation fell in the form of freezing rain with a small amounts of snow and sleet also noted in a few spots. From the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas south to the Michigan/Ohio state-line, the freezing rain changed to rain, but not before heavy ice accumulations occurred. Total precipitation amounts ranged from 1.5 to nearly 2.5 inches from Detroit and Ann Arbor south to the Ohio state-line. Tecumseh reported 2.27 inches. Dundee reported 2.24 inches. Finally, 2.18 inches of precipitation fell at Morenci. From the northern suburbs of Detroit north to the Flint and Port Huron areas, precipitation amounts ranged from 0.8 to 1.5 inches. North of that area, amounts ranged from 0.4 to 0.8 inches.

In the Detroit Metropolitan area, the ice storm resulted in power outages to over 425,000 homes and businesses. This was the 3rd largest outage in history and the worst ever for an ice storm. Several thousands of residents were without power for as long as 4 days. In addition to power lines, falling trees damaged dozens of cars and houses throughout the area. Most schools were closed and there were numerous auto accidents.

The same storm that brought the heavy ice accumulations to southeast Lower Michigan also brought flooding to many areas from Detroit south to the Ohio state-line. I-94 was flooded in southern Macomb County between 9 and 12 Mile Roads during the morning of the 14th. Also, during that time, the Lodge Freeway was also flooded in southern Oakland County. Lakeshore flooding along the west shore of Lake Erie. It was most severe at Estral Beach where strong easterly winds associated with the storm pushed 2 feet of water onto the shore. There was also some minor flooding elsewhere through southeast Lower Michigan.

April 1997 Summary:

After a couple of wet months with temperatures near to above normal, drier and cooler weather took up residence over southeast Lower Michigan. This was due to the storm track shifting well south of Lower Michigan.

Though the month averaged between 1 and 3.5 degrees below normal across southeast Lower Michigan, the month did not start out on the cool side. During the 1st week, temperatures averaged 5 to 15 degrees above normal. On the 4th, Flint set a record high of 72 degrees. This eclipsed the old record by 2 degrees. The previous record for the date was 70 degrees set back in 1981.

The warm weather was short lived as much colder air surged south into the area during the 2nd week and remained over the area through the remainder of the month. On the morning of the 9th, Flint Bishop Airport recorded a record low of 18 degrees. This broke the old record of 19 degrees set back in 1997. On the morning of the 19th, another record low was established at Flint Bishop Airport. On this morning, the temperatures plummeted to 23 degrees. This broke the old record of 24 degrees set back in 1983.

April 1997 was the first month since November 1996 to average below normal temperatures. This also made it the third April in a row to average below normal temperatures.

With the storm track being farther south, the area only saw between 1 and 2 inches of precipitation. This was 1 to 2 inches below normal. Much of the precipitation during the month fell in the form of snow. The Pontiac area south saw between a ½ to 4 inches of snow. Meanwhile, north of this area between 4 and 8 inches of snow fell during the month.

During the late afternoon of April 6th, very strong west to southwest winds (not associated with severe thunderstorms) accompanied a cold frontal passage. The strong winds continued on the 7th. Gusts to 70 miles an hour were estimated in a few spots during the afternoon of the 7th. In Belleville, a 34 pound 4-year old girl was blown several feet through the air. She landed on the driveway by her home and she suffered a head wound that required stitches.

Elsewhere, a five-story high metal frame for a building under construction in Ferndale was blown down and two concrete walls under construction for an Ethan Allen furniture store caved-in Sterling Heights. In the Thumb Area, a large barn collapsed near Deckerville damaging several thousand dollars of farm equipment inside and a large cable TV tower was toppled near Port Hope. The wind damaged trees and power lines throughout southeast Michigan resulting in a power loss to 125,000 customers. Overall, over $1.2 million dollars damage resulted from these winds.

On the afternoon of the 30th, a 34-year old woman was struck by lightning outside of her home in Commerce Township in Oakland County. She was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center where she was listed in serious condition.

May 1997 Summary:

May 1997 will be certainly remembered because of the abnormally cold weather experienced across southeast Lower Michigan. A dominant northwest flow brought cold air masses that originated in the arctic unusually far south into the Great Lakes during much of the month. While it is not uncommon for a brief cold spell or two early in the month, the persistence of the unseasonably cold weather was very rare.

Temperatures across southeast Lower Michigan averaged between 6 and 8 degrees below normal. Flint averaged 48.8 degrees below normal. This was an amazing 8.0 degrees below normal! This made it the coldest May ever recorded in Flint. The previous coldest May occurred back in 1966 when the average temperature was 50.1 degrees. Also noteworthy, Flint only had one day during the month (24th) which averaged above normal and it reached 70 degrees or better only 2 days (23rd and 24th). Not surprising, there was one record low temperatures established, 2 record low temperatures tied, and record low maximum temperature fell by the waste side during the month. On the 7th, Flint record a low temperature of 26 degrees. This broke the old record of 28 degrees established back in 1958. On the 14th, Flint got down to 32 degrees. This tied a record that was established back in 1984. On the 15th, Flint only rose up to 45 degrees. This established a new record low maximum for the date. On the 20th, Flint fell to 32 degrees. This tied a record that was established back in 1954.

Detroit averaged 52.0 degrees. This was 6.4 degrees below normal. This made it the 5th coldest May in Detroit. Incredibly, only one day during the month (19th) averaged above normal and that was a meager one degree! Also, only 3 days during the month reached 70 degrees or better and this tied May 1924 for 2nd place for the fewest 70 degree days. Only one other May in recorded history had fewer 70 degree days and that was back in 1882 with 2 days. Even though the month averaged well below normal, there were no record low temperatures set despite temperatures frequently dipping into the 30s during the month.

Besides having much temperatures than normal, May 1997 was also wetter than normal. Rainfall ranged from 3.33 inches at Flint (0.68 degrees above normal) to 5.23 inches at Detroit (2.31 inches above normal). Even though it was much colder than normal, no snowfall occurred across southeast Lower Michigan during the month.

Late of the 5th, a cold front tracked across southeast Lower Michigan. This cold front triggered scattered severe thunderstorms across the area. Near Hemlock (Saginaw County), a severe thunderstorm produced golf ball sized hail and strong winds that flipped a 10-foot snowmobile trailer, tore siding off of a garage, and flattened a 45-foot tree. In Oakland County, a severe thunderstorm uprooted a tree in Oxford. Finally, severe thunderstorms produced 3/4 inch hail at Grand Blanc in Genesee County and in Westland, Livonia, and Dearborn in Wayne County.

Late on the 8th, a strong low pressure system tracking across Lake Superior pushed a cold front across southeast Lower Michigan. Scattered severe thunderstorms developed along this front in the Saginaw Valley and Thumb Area. One-inch diameter hail was reported at Poseyville (Midland County), Freeland (Saginaw County), and 5 miles west of Kingston (Tuscola County). Nickel size hail (0.88 inch diameter) was reported 5 miles southeast of Bay City (Bay County). Finally, dime size hail (0.75 inch diameter) was reported just south of Caro (Tuscola County) and in Deckerville (Sanilac County).

June 1997 Summary:

After a cold and wet spring across southeast Lower Michigan, the weather pattern became more typical of early summer. The dominant northwesterly wind flow aloft that was so prevalent through much of the spring relaxed its grip and it allowed a more seasonal west to southwest flow aloft to occur.

Due to the change in the wind flow aloft, temperatures rose above normal across southeast Lower Michigan. Temperatures were between 1 and 3 degrees above normal.

Between 1.0 and 3.5 inches of precipitation fell across southeast Lower Michigan during the month. Tri-Cities Airport received the least (1.55 inches). Meanwhile, the Detroit Metropolitan airport received the most (3.17 inches).

On June 1st through 3rd, a low pressure tracked slowly across Kentucky. This low pressure area spread rain across southern Lower Michigan. The heavy rains were confined to the far south. Some 2 day rain totals included 2.63 inches at Adrian (Lenawee County) and 2.20 inches at Monroe (Monroe County). The NWS WSR-88D at White Lake indicated that as much as 3 inches fell farther south along the Michigan/Ohio state-line. The combination of heavy rain and a persistent northeast wind caused lakeshore flooding along the Lake Erie shoreline. One and a half feet of water covered Morin Point Road in Monroe County. Farther inland, nearly every stream in southern Monroe County was reported over its banks. Widespread yard, street, and basement flooding was reported throughout the southern part of Monroe County.

During the afternoon of June 21st, a low pressure system tracked across central Lower Michigan. This resulted in an outbreak of severe thunderstorms. A weak tornado (F0) tornado touched down near Clio in Genesee County. Fortunately, no damage was reported with this tornado. Most of the damage reported with these storms was the result of strong winds blowing down trees and power lines. A roof was blown off a business in Novi (Oakland County) and windows were blown out of a house in Croswell (Sanilac County). Localized heavy rains resulted in brief road flooding in Genesee and northern Lapeer Counties. In Otisville (Genesee County), lightning struck a building that was housing a children's event. Eight children were taken to the hospital after complaining of numbness or tingling. Fortunately, none of the injuries were serious. During this event, which lasted over 4 hours, 7 severe thunderstorm and 3 tornado warnings were issued.

On June 23rd, 1.75 inch hail was reported in Laingsburg (Shiawassee County). This was the largest reported hail in our County Warning Area (CWA) this year.

July 1997 Summary:

During July, the upper level winds were primarily zonal (this means that the winds were blowing from west to east) across the northern tier of the United States. This caused the temperatures to range from normal to about one degree below normal. Rainfall amounts ranged from 2.07 inches at White Lake to 4.19 inches at Tri-Cities Airport.

Besides the upper level winds being zonal, it was very fast for this time of year. Usually you would see this type pattern during either the spring or fall. The upper level flow pattern also had several strong upper level systems embedded in it. These strong upper level systems were responsible for the development of strong surface low pressure areas that moved through Michigan during the month. These low pressure areas produced several bouts of severe weather. Severe weather occurred on the 2nd, 6th, 8th, 14th, 26th, and 27th. The remainder of this summary will discuss each of these severe weather events in detail.

July 2nd was by far the busiest severe weather event of the year and it will be long remembered as "The Day of the Tornadoes". Four tornadic supercell thunderstorms developed along a strong cold front during the afternoon and evening. These thunderstorms produced 16 tornadoes. This was the most tornadoes in a single outbreak in the state of Michigan. The old record was 15 tornadoes on March 27, 1991; however, due to the change in classification of what constitutes a distinct tornado this outbreak may have had more tornadoes. Prior to 1994, tornadoes were classified as distinct tornadoes if there was a 5 mile break between damage paths. In 1994, this was change to a 2 mile break between damage paths.

Three of the four tornadic supercells thunderstorms affected southeast Lower Michigan. The other tornadic supercell thunderstorm moved through east central Lower Michigan. The northern most supercell in southeast Lower Michigan produced four F-1 tornadoes in Saginaw County, two F-1 and two F-3 tornadoes in Genesee County, and one F-1 tornado in Lapeer County. A woman was killed in Thetford Township by a falling tree. Another tornadic supercell thunderstorm produced F-1 tornadoes in northern Livingston and northern Oakland Counties. The tornado in northern Oakland County destroyed 2 mobile home parks near Holly. One person was killed in one of the trailer parks as a result of having other trailers land on her own. The southern most tornadic supercell thunderstorm produced an F-2 tornado that moved through the densely populated area of northern Wayne County including the northern part of the city of Detroit. The result was nearly 100 million dollars in damage in northern Wayne County alone as the tornado cut a swath of heavy damage from northwest Detroit through Highland Park and Hamtramack. There were nearly 100 injuries reported, but thankfully no one was killed in that area. Meanwhile, just to the north, an F-0 tornado and strong straight-line winds did about 30 million dollars in Macomb County. Tragically, the greatest loss of life from these storms occurred in Grosse Park Farms. There straight-line winds of nearly 100 mph blew a gazebo full of people into Lake St. Clair. Five deaths and 8 injuries resulted from this.

The severe storms also resulted in extensive flash flooding and flooding around the Detroit Metropolitan area. Several highways were flooded in northern Wayne and southern Macomb Counties late on the 2nd. The Middle Rouge River near Garden Cit went above its 7 foot flood stage at 10 PM EDT on the 2nd and crested at 8.6 feet at 1 PM EDT on the 3rd. The river fell back below flood stage at 2 AM EDT on the 4th. The Clinton River at Fraser went above its 16 foot flood stage at 1130 PM EDT on the 2nd. It crested at 16.5 feet at 1 AM EDT on the 3rd. The river fell back below flood stage at 4 AM EDT on the 3rd. The Rouge River at Detroit went above its 15 foot flood stage at 3 AM EDT on the 3rd. It crested at 16.4 feet at 9 AM EDT on the 3rd. The river fell back below flood stage at 8 PM on the 3rd.

On July 6th, an unseasonably strong cold front tracked across Michigan. The air was not as unstable as was the case on the 2nd; however, scattered severe thunderstorms still developed during the afternoon. Large hail was reported at Vassar (Tuscola County) and Goodells (St. Clair County) and strong winds blew power lines down at Farmington (Oakland County). Heavy downpours resulted in road flooding at Marlette (Sanilac County).

On July 8th, a low pressure system tracked across southern Lower Michigan. Severe thunderstorms produced 3/4 inch diameter hail just south of Salem (Washtenaw County), Northville (Wayne County), Livonia (Wayne County), Royal Oak Township (Oakland County), and at Plymouth (Wayne County). One inch diameter hail was reported in Warren (Macomb Couny) and Dixboro (Washtenaw County).

On July 14th, a rather widespread outbreak of severe weather occurred across our County Warning Area (CWA). Hail up to golf ball size along with wind gusts to 60 miles an hour occurred during the early evening. A fair amount of tree and power line damage was reported during this event.

On the early morning of the 26th, lightning started a fire that caused $750,000 dollars damage to a 2-story apartment building.

Finally, on the evening of the 27th, a thunderstorm swept through the town of Frankenmuth (Saginaw County). Strong winds demolished a large billboard. Some of its pieces were thrown over 80 yards. Trees were also blown down. Heavy rains also produced some brief street flooding in the city.

August 1997 Summary:

During the month, the upper level winds were predominantly from the northwest. This kept ushering in cool air masses from central and western Canada. As a result, southeast Lower Michigan saw their average temperature between 2 and 4 degrees below normal.

Flint was cold enough that they had their 2nd coldest August on record. Their coldest August occurred back in 1967. During that year, they averaged 64.8 degrees. This was just 0.2 degrees below what they averaged this August. During the month, daytime high temperatures averaged 74.7 degrees. This was 4 ½ degrees below normal. This is a relatively big departure for a summer month when the temperature deviations (above or below normal) are usually at a minimum. This was the coldest average high temperature ever recorded in the month of August. This broke the record for coldest average high temperature set back in 1992 (75.5 degrees). Two record low maximum temperatures at Flint helped to establish the unseasonably cool average high temperature. One occurred on the 20th when the mercury only rose to 63 degrees. While the other one followed the next day with a high temperature of only 65 degrees. Though it was abnormally cool, there was only one record low temperature set during the month and that was 44 degrees on the 6th.

Across much of southeast Lower Michigan, rainfall was within 1 inch of normal. The only place that saw more than a 1 inch departure from normal was Tri-Cities Airport. During the month, they received 4.83 inches of rain. This was 1.63 inches above normal.

On August 15th and 16th, three severe weather events hit the southeast corner of the state. Two of these events occurred on August 16th (one in the morning and one in the evening). During these events, thunderstorms produced severe winds across Lenawee, Monroe, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties.

On morning of August 30th, numerous waterspouts were reported over western Lake Erie. Most of them were reported between Luna Pier and Monroe. The picture on the front cover of this newsletter was one of the waterspouts to occur on this day.

September 1997 Summary:

During the month, southeast Lower Michigan saw a fairly active storm track. As a result, it is not surprising that rainfall totals were between a ½ and 2 inches above normal. Detroit received the least in southeast Lower Michigan with 3.49 inches (0.60 inches above normal). Meanwhile, Tri-Cities Airport received the most in southeast Lower Michigan with 5.80 inches (1.89 inches above normal).

With all of that rain, it is not too surprising that temperatures were below normal. Both Detroit Metro Airport and Tri-Cities Airport averaged about a ½ degree below normal. Meanwhile, Flint Bishop Airport averaged 1.6 degrees below normal. Record low temperatures were set at Flint on the 4th with 37 degrees (the old record was 39 set back in 1974) and 38 degrees (the old record was 41 degrees set back in 1974) on the 5th.

On the morning of September 8th, a waterspout was sighted over western Lake Erie. It was located offshore from Bolles Harbor which is just south of Monroe.

During the afternoon of the 19th, severe thunderstorms developed ahead of a strong cold front which moved across southeast Lower Michigan. The severe thunderstorms downed trees and power lines in Chelsea (Washtenaw County), Farmington Hills (Oakland County), Detroit (Wayne County), Clinton (Lenawee County), and Dundee (Monroe County). Lightning struck a farm near Coleman (Midland County) killing 4 horses. Lightning also damaged 2 houses in Waterford (Oakland County) and an apartment building in Westland (Wayne County). About 20,000 people were left without power.

On the morning of the 24th, southeast Lower Michigan saw its first frost of the fall. The temperature fell to 32 degrees at Flint. This missed tying the record by one degree.

October 1997 Summary:

October 1997 will be remembered as the split or dual personality month across southeast Lower Michigan. What started out with beautiful Indian Summer weather abruptly changed about mid month to at times a blustery and winter-like month. Temperatures peaked during the first week of the month with high temperatures frequently getting up into the 80s. The Indian Summer weather pattern remained across the area for nearly 2 weeks. On the 7th, Flint recorded a record high temperature of 83 degrees. This eclipsed the old record of 82 degrees set back in 1963.

On the 14th, an abrupt change occurred in the weather pattern. The jet stream shifted from the southwest to the northwest and it stayed this way the remainder of the month. The northwest jet brought polar air masses from central and northern Canada into southeast Lower Michigan during the 2nd half of the month. Temperatures during the 2nd half of the month were nearly as much below normal as the temperatures were above normal during the 1st half of the month; thus, most places ended up with near normal temperatures for the month. The only exception was Flint who averaged 2.0 degrees below normal. On the 27th, the mercury only climbed to 33 degrees. This made it the coldest October high temperature ever recorded in Flint. Finally, on the morning of the 28th, Flint fell to 22 degrees. This tied the record low temperature set back in 1965.

The upper level ridge during the 1st half of the month kept the area dry. However, from the 14th to the end of the month, there was a rather active storm track across the area. This active storm track helped rainfall amounts to be just below normal. If it was not the upper level ridge during the 1st half of the month, rainfall amounts would have been well above normal.

From late on the 26th through early morning on the 27th, a strong low pressure system tracked across the Ohio Valley. The precipitation started out as rain during the afternoon of the 26th over the Saginaw Valley, Thumb, and Flint area. By early evening on the 26th, the rain had changed to snow and the snow continued until around daybreak on the 27th. Accumulations were mostly in the 3 to 6 inch range. St. Charles in Saginaw County received the most snow with 6 inches. The combination of heavy wet snow and the fact that many of the trees had not lost their leaves resulted in widespread tree damage and downed power lines. Around 4,000 homes lost power on the 27th. Measurable snow fell as far south as the northern suburbs of Detroit.

During this storm, Flint recorded 2.8 inches of snow. This was the 2nd highest daily snowfall for an October day. The highest daily snowfall for an October day was 3.5 inches back on October 19, 1989. It also made it the 2nd snowiest October ever in Flint. The snowiest October occurred back in 1989 when 4.4 inches of snow fell during the month.

On 27th at 7 AM, lightning struck a transformer pole in Ann Arbor (Washtenaw County). This knocked out power to about 500 Detroit Edison customers. Just 4 minutes later, lightning struck a house in Ypsilanti (Washtenaw County). The lightning blew a hole in one of the house's walls.

November 1997 Summary:

Like much of the late summer and early fall, a persistent northwest upper level flow pattern brought Canadian air masses from central and west Canada into southeast Lower Michigan during the month. As a result, temperatures ended up being between 2.8 degrees (Tri-Cities) and 3.9 degrees (Flint) below normal. The coldest weather during the month occurred during the 2nd and 3rd week of the month. During this time period, temperatures averaged around 10 degrees below normal daily from the 10th to the 24th. On the morning of the 12th, Flint recorded a record low temperature of 15 degrees. The previous record for this date was 18 degrees set back in 1983. On the morning of the 16th, Flint record a record low temperature of 9 degrees. This broke the previous record of 13 degrees set back in 1943.

It was also cold enough in Flint during November that they had their 9th coldest November on record. This is the third November in a row to place in the top 10 coldest Novembers. November 1995 placed in 2nd place with 31.9 degree average and November 1996 placed right behind it in third place with a 32.7 degree average.

During the month, the storm track was well south of the area. As a result, precipitation averaged below normal. Precipitation amounts ranged from 0.95 inches at Detroit Metro Airport to 2.18 inches at Tri-Cities Airport.

December 1997 Summary:

During much of December, the upper level winds were predominately from the west and southwest. This kept the arctic air masses primarily north of the US/Canadian boarder and allowed both Pacific and Gulf of Mexico air masses to remain over southeast Lower Michigan throughout much of the month. Temperatures during the month, averaged between 2 ½ and 5 degrees above normal. These averages would have been slightly higher if it were not for two glancing blows by arctic air masses late in the month.

Like October and November, precipitation was below normal across southeast Lower Michigan during December. The Saginaw Valley and Thumb areas received the least in southeast Lower Michigan. These areas saw between a ½ and 1 inch of precipitation during the month. The Flint, Pontiac, and Port Huron areas received between 1 and 1 ½ inches of precipitation. Finally, the Detroit, Monroe, and Adrian areas received the most precipitation in southeast Lower Michigan. These areas saw between 1 ½ and 2 inches of precipitation falling during the month.

The reason why the precipitation increased as you went south in southeast Lower Michigan is that there were two storm tracks across the United States during December. The first storm track was located over the northern tier of states. The second storm track extended from California to Texas to the mid Atlantic states. This second storm track robbed the first storm track of moisture; therefore, very little precipitation occurred with the first storm track.

On the 9th, a winter storm moved from the central and southern Plains into Arkansas and Missouri by late evening. The storm then strengthened considerably as it moved northeast into central Illinois and Indiana by the morning of the 10th. During the morning of the 10th, snow spread northward across southeast Lower Michigan. By late afternoon on the 10th, the storm was located over extreme northeast Ohio. The storm then rapidly weakened as another storm developed over the Atlantic just east of the mid Atlantic states. Before dying, the winter storm produced around a half foot of snow from the Michigan/Ohio border north to around I-69. North of I-69, the snowfall amounts tapered off dramatically. The highest amounts reported was 9 inches in Port Huron (St. Clair County), 8 inches in Dexter (Washtenaw County), and 7.5 inches in Brighton (Livingston County).




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