Shipwrecks, severe thunderstorms, and record cold top the list of Michigan weather events on this day in history. From the National Weather Service and Storm Prediction Center (SPC) archives here are the events that happened on Sep. 21.
Several shipwrecks occurred on this day dating back to the mid 1800s. The wood brig trading and fishing boat, John Jacob Astor sank in a Lake Superior gale by hitting a reef in1844. It was carrying furs and trade goods, Owned by Astor’s American Fur Company, reportedly the 1st commercial vessel on Lake Superior. She struck a reef and foundered near Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Wreckage was still visible in the early 1860’s. First documented shipwreck on Lake Superior. The wood bark, three mast Nucleus, while carrying iron ore in 1869. She was downbound when she sprung a leak and sunk in a storm off Whitefish Point in Lake Superior. In 1874, the wood bark, three mast Monarch, while carrying coal became unmanageable during a gale and went on the rocks near Detour, Mich. in Lake Huron. She sank and was a 15,000 dollar loss. In a strong southwest gale in 1895, the steamer Charles J. Kershaw went aground on a rock reef east of Marquette. Captain Henry Cleary of the Marquette Lifesaving Station rescued the 13 men from the ship in a daring rescue attempt that took three tries to remove all the crew. The first try saved nine crewmembers, the second attempt failed and the third attempt saved the other four crewmembers. The wood scow-schooner White Foam, while carrying lumber in 1899, foundered off Bois Blanc Island in the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Huron in a storm. In 1909, the composite, bulk freight Samoa, while carrying copper sand, was attempting to shelter from a thunderstorm in the lake, she was struck by lightning, caught fire and burned to the waterline and sank in Torch Lake, Portage ship canal in Lake Superior in the Keweenaw.
Lansing records a low temperature of 19 degrees in 1863. This is the coldest on record for the month of September.
Severe thunderstorms with tornadoes and damaging wind impact Michigan on this date in weather history. Intense lightning from thunderstorms in 1956 sweep across West Michigan. The lightning is responsible for 11 house fires in Ottawa and Kent Counties, accounting for thousands of dollars in damage. In 1967, a small tornado struck just north of Lansing at 10:45 a.m. destroying a garage. A tornado hit north of Webberville in Ingham County in 1992 damaging several outbuildings. Severe thunderstorms produced damaging wind and large hail over western Upper Michigan in 2007. A 70 mph wind gust was measured at the Ironwood Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) in the late afternoon with several trees down at Watersmeet. In 2010, a Northern Plains low pressure system and associated cold front triggered isolated severe thunderstorms over Gogebic and Houghton in the morning. The Gogebic County Sheriff reported widespread trees and power lines down across Ironwood. A spotter also reported 12-inch diameter branches down on McLeod Avenue. Property damage totaled 5,000 dollars. Ahead of the cold front passing across West Michigan the Grand Rapids, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported a wind gust to 72mph. Some of the strongest wind reports came in from Allegan, Muskegon Ottawa and Kent counties. The cold front swept through Southeast Michigan during the late evening hours producing severe thunderstorms north of M-59. Most reports of severe weather were from the squall line that raced through the Tri-Cities, Flint and Thumb regions. There were 21 reports of severe wind gusts and tree damage. Click this link for a radar loop of the storms on this day. The attached slide show has a few severe weather maps for the day.