Shipwrecks, deadly tornadoes, and an early season snowstorm top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service archives here are the events that happened on Oct. 24.
An unnamed wood scow, while carrying lumber camp supplies in 1882, was in tow of the yacht/supply boat Grace when that vessel’s engine failed in a storm enroute to Goulais Bay. The scow eventually came ashore and was subsequently towed to Whitefish Point, where she pounded to pieces in the waves of Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior.
In 1884, the iron passenger and package freight Scotia, while carrying light, was bound for Duluth, when she drove ashore on Keweenaw Point, eight miles below Copper Harbor in Lake Superior in a blizzard and gale and was torn to pieces by waves. The crew was rescued by the steamer Nyack. Her engines, boilers, metal deck gear and much of her hull plating were salvaged in the summer of 1886. On the same day, the wood schooner Christine Nilson, while carrying 575 tons of pig iron, was bound Escanaba for Chicago with iron, when she wrecked on a reef at the mouth of Bailey’s Harbor in the Door Peninsula, Wis. in Lake Michigan while attempting to shelter there from a gale. This ship was also heavily damaged in the Chicago Fire of October 1871.
On this day in 1887, the light keeper at Ontonagon reported it freezing harder than he had ever seen so early in the season. A blizzard developed soon after and continued into the 25th. In a separate incident, the spars and wreck of the Bradley could be seen from Marquette Harbor. A tug with a yawl was dispatched into the northwest blowing gale to attempt a rescue. The tug’s captain couldn’t get close to the Bradley with 20 foot waves breaking over the schooner. The Portage Canal Lifesaving Service was telegraphed and they were brought in by railroad late that night. The line connecting a lifeboat and a tug got severed in the rescue attempt. The lifeboat made it to the Bradley and the 10 crew members boarded it. The rescue leader tried to find the tug and couldn’t. Waves washed over the side of the lifeboat drenching all 19 members in the lifeboat and all became ice-covered trying to find the tug. They returned to the Bradley to warm up in the ship’s cabin. They finally got pulled to shore and warmed up by the campfires built there by the rescue party. This gale also put the schooner Plymouth aground in Middle Bay and wrecked a barge off the cliffs of Presque Isle and it moved Congress to release money for a lifesaving station in Marquette which opened in 1891.
The wood schooner, bulk freight, three mast George, while carrying 1,300 tons of soft coal in 1893, was upbound when her masts were blown out by a quick-rising northwest gale. Helpless, she was driven aground about 30 yards offshore at Pictured Rocks near Munising, Mich. in Lake Superior and torn to pieces. Bound Lake Erie for Marquette.
In 1899, the scow-schooner, wood, two mast Badger, while carrying cedar ties, was bound for Sturgeon Bay or Menominee when she began to fill while encountering a gale. On the same day, the wood schooner, three mast Criss Grover, while carrying dynamite, went ashore in fog during a gale and wrecked near Split Rock, Minn. in Lake Superior. She often carried dynamite cargos to the mining camps when no other vessel would. Despite her crew’s efforts to pump her out for the next 12 hours, she eventually foundered off Cedar River, MI in the bay of Green Bay. The crew was taken off by local fishermen before she went down.
The wood schooner, two mast W.T. Chappell, while carrying wood in 1902, sprang a leak in a gale on Lake Superior off Vermillion Point, was blown down and sunk. Her crew was rescued by Vermilion Point Lifesavers.
In 1908, the wood, bulk freight “lumber hooker” Peshtigo, while carrying lumber, ran into the shallows and was wrecked in a gale 300 feet off Mackinac Island off Mission Pt. in the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Huron.
An early season snowstorm left inches of snow in 1933. The Saginaw area observed five inches of snow and Alpena had 4.4 inches.
In 1967, a tornado travels across Allegan County. It injures four people as it destroys a trailer in Monterrey Township.
Cold air settles into the region in 1991. The overnight temperature dropped to only 63 degrees in Flint, which is the daily record for the highest minimum temperature in Flint. This also happens to be the second night in a string of four nights (October 23-26) in which record high minimum temperatures were recorded! Other cities observing record high minimum temperatures for the date include Grand Rapids 63 degrees, Muskegon 62 degrees, Lansing 62 degrees, Alpena 59 degrees, Detroit 61 degrees, Houghton Lake 57 degrees, and Sault Ste. Marie 56 degrees.
In 2001, afternoon and evening storms produced widespread damage from Mississippi to Michigan. Six tornadoes were reported mainly on the east side of the state. In West Michigan several houses were damaged and trees knocked down in Cass County. There were a few reports of large hail in Holland and Grandville. Most of the wind damage reports were from trees and power lines. There was one death and four injuries as a result of the wind. In Cass County a tree was blown down onto a pickup truck and killed the driver. Another injury occurred when a tree fell onto a car, also in Cass County. Three people were injured when the wind overturned trailers in Calhoun County. The National Weather Service offices from around the region list the following details of the events on this day. Grand Rapids – A squall line moves across southern Lower Michigan producing widespread wind damage and several tornadoes. The town of Schoolcraft in Kalamazoo County is hit by winds estimated up to 100 mph, causing extensive tree damage and some structural damage. The town of Marshall in Calhoun County also sustains some damage to homes as winds gust between 60 and 80 mph. Detroit – On October 24, 2001, a strong cold front moved into the Great Lakes region during the early morning hours of the 25th. Ahead of this cold front, warm air surged northward into the Great Lakes. Thunderstorms developed ahead of the cold front late in the afternoon of the 24th and continued into the evening. These thunderstorms extended from the Great Lakes all the way to the Deep South. Strong winds just off the surface allowed some of the thunderstorms that developed across southern Michigan to become severe. Most of the severe storms caused damaging winds gusts with a few hail reports. Most of the wind gusts were estimated between 60 and 70 mph, but isolated locations in Lapeer County gusted up to 100 mph. Some of the thunderstorms developed rotation, a few of which produced tornadoes. Three tornadoes were spawned from the thunderstorms including an F0 near Fosters, an F1 from Hartland to Davisburg, and another F1 from near Munger to Quanicassee. South Bend – This area’s second largest tornado outbreak (tied with the Palm Sunday outbreak of April 11, 1965) took place as ten tornadoes spun across the region. Two of the tornadoes produced F3 damage in St. Joseph County Indiana and Putnam County Ohio. There were two fatalities, one in LaPorte County and one the following January in Saint Joseph County, Indiana. Elsewhere, 70 mph winds blew through Grovertown (Starke County). Roof damage occurred near Kewanna (Fulton County Indiana). Hail 1.75 inches in diameter fell two miles east of Columbia City and in Ottoville (Putnam County). A house near Waterloo (DeKalb County) lost its roof. A barn was destroyed seven miles north of Coldwater. A shed and a barn were destroyed three miles east of Camden (Hillsdale County). Click this link for a radar animation from the Storm Prediction Center. The attached video shows more from these storms.