May 24-25, 1893: Big Late-Season Snow

Published: May. 24, 2016 at 7:07 PM EDT
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Big Late-Season Snowstorm

I was looking through old daily weather records around Upper Michigan and came upon an event that stands out like a sore thumb so late in the season—a major snowstorm.

The daily snowfall records for the city of Marquette show a 5.3-inch daily record on May 24, 1893 and 4.7 inches—another record—the next day. The weather maps showed a major low pressure area that developed over the central Plains and moved to the northeast through the southern Great Lakes. Upper Michigan was on the cold side of the system as it passed to the south. What is so unusual is that it was cold enough so late in May for precipitation to fall in the form of snow even down to lake-level in the city of Marquette.

No other city in Upper Michigan has records that go that far back in time, so we do not know how much snow fell over other parts of the Upper Peninsula. What I did come across when checking other towns was an 11-inch snowstorm in the city of Munising on May 23, 1917. In Marquette, there was a daily-record 1.9 inches on May 23 that year. In looking at the weather maps, it appears that the movement of the storm was far enough to the east so that Marquette may have missed the brunt of the storm.

Remember the big snowstorm in May 1990? These storms in 1893 and 1917 were of that magnitude but a full two weeks later! These snows remind me that if I look hard enough through Upper Michigan records I’ll find weather events that will surprise me.

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