Marquette August 20, 1888 Tornado

...126 year anniversary of the Marquette tornado...


A thunderstorm began at 155 pm in Marquette on August 20, 1888 with light rain falling at 2 pm. This was followed about 220 pm by a dark and heavy mass of cloud that was shaped like a balloon with fan-like wings, having a spiral as well as forward movement. It hovered nearly over the center of Marquette for about a minute and then plunged downward in a slanting direction until it reached Front Street and Spring Street taking the entire roof off of the Adams building on the SW corner and lifting the corner of the Signal Service building on the SE corner. The anemometer and wind vane bracings were torn off from the roof, bending the rod of the wind vane, loosening the flag pole braces and smashing the thermometer into fragments. The anemometer was saved from falling thereby obtaining a complete wind record with a 60 mph wind gust recorded. Heavy rain with one half inch falling in 5 minutes from 205 to 210 pm with hail ranging in size from half to one and a half inches in size (mothball to ping pong ball sized). The path of the tornado was 50 feet wide. The roof of the Masonic building was carried into the lake which was 2 blocks away and the iron roof on Grace Furnace was blown off.  The roof of the Thoney building was also badly damaged. These buildings were in the direct path of the tornado. Debris was piled up on Front Street 10 feet deep. Hundreds of shade trees and chimneys fell and glass windows were broken. Telephone and telegraph wires were broken and twisted into a perfect net work. The heavy coal hoists or derricks on the merchandise dock had been torn from their fastenings and moved about 20 feet with the hoists weighing between 7 and 8 tons. The two nearest hoists to land were untouched. No rain fell in South Marquette or Presque Isle and temperatures went from 81 before the storm to 50 after. The weather observer the next day asked for repair money from Washington to repair the roof and the weather instruments at the signal service building and had an open market rate quote of $24 for the repairs. The tornado was rated F2 with winds from 113-157 mph.




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