Southeast Michigan Weather History

This Day in Southeast Michigan Weather History ...

On March 21, 2012, high temperatures of 84, 86, and 87 were recorded in Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw respectively. All of these temperatures broke the all-time March records for warmth at each location. Saginaw was particularly impressive, shattering its previous all-time March record of 83 by four degrees. Ultimately, one more record-breaking day in Detroit would relegate this day to be its second warmest March day ever recorded. The records for Flint and Saginaw, however, still stand.

Also on March 21, 2008, a winter storm hit the greater Metro Detroit region. While most of the metro area received 3 to 7 inches of snow, a band of 8 to 10 inches fell from Dexter and the Irish Hills across Saline, Tecumseh, Dundee and into Temperance.

Also on March 21, 1913, powerful winds swept across Southeast Michigan as a strong cold front moved across the state. The wind storm was one of the strongest in the local climate record and caused widespread damage, countless injuries, and several fatalities.

According to the historical record, east winds gusting to around 30 mph during the pre-dawn hours turned to the south, allowing the temperature in Detroit to rise to 57 degrees by 9 a.m. With the passage of the cold front, temperatures fell precipitously through the day, reaching a low of 23 degrees by midnight. As the cold air first began spilling into the area, winds initially turned southwesterly and began gusting to over 60 mph between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. The average wind speed during the following hour increased to 71 mph with a peak gust of nearly 80 mph. Shortly thereafter, at 11:15 a.m., a peak wind gust of 86 mph was recorded. Altogether, winds gusted in excess of 70 mph for approximately 3 hours while gusts in excess of 60 mph continued for around 6 hours.

Damage was significant, widespread, and conservatively estimated at $500,000 (equivalent to $11,500,000 in 2012 dollars after adjusting for inflation). Buildings were razed, roofs and chimneys were destroyed, and trees were broken and uprooted. In addition, vehicles were overturned and there were accounts of a delivery wagon having been blown through the window of a restaurant on Lafayette Boulevard. In addition to several fatalities, one of which included a Grand Trunk watchman who was blown in front of a moving train, injuries to pedestrians were numerous and included arm, leg, and skull fractures. The strong winds also caused the Detroit River level to fall so low that the water intakes for manufacturing plants were cut off, resulting in their closure. On the Canadian side, thirteen freight train cars were derailed by large waves.

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