Governor Rick Snyder has declared April 6 through April 12 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan.
While the entire state of Michigan experienced a below average year for thunderstorm related severe weather in 2013, there were two deaths and two injuries attributed to severe summertime weather across the state. Flooding, severe thunderstorms, and tornadoes were responsible for about $277 million in damages across the state in 2013, compared to $210 million in damages in 2012.
Flooding in 2013 resulted in statewide damages in excess of $140 million, nearly half of the weather related damages in 2013. The most significant flooding occurred from mid-April into early-May. A later than usual melt of a deeper than normal snow pack caused minor to moderate flooding across the western and north-central Upper Peninsula. Gogebic County was hardest hit by the flooding, where numerous primary and secondary roads closed. The snow melt also caused flooding in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, Marquette and Ontonagon counties. The flooding in the Upper Peninsula was responsible for more than $4 million in damages. The extensive flooding across the state resulted in President Barack Obama declaring a major disaster area for 16 counties in Michigan. Six of those counties were in the western and central Upper Peninsula. This declaration provided public assistance grants for affected state and local governments to rebuild roads, bridges and other public facilities and infrastructure.
While there were no tornadoes in the Upper Peninsula in 2013, severe thunderstorms produced some damage across the region. On the evening of July 18, severe storms tore through L'Anse, Michigan, producing a swath of straight-line wind damage. No injuries were reported, but a close call occurred when a tree fell through a mobile home with a woman inside. Also on the evening of July 18, straight-line winds knocked down over 50 trees in Muskallonge Lake State Park, narrowly missing several campers. During the early morning of July 19, an 80 mph wind gust hit the shoreline of Helen Lake near Republic knocking hundreds of trees down. Trees crashed through one cottage, but miraculously the occupants escaped injury.
Despite the perception that the Upper Peninsula is immune to significant severe weather, the area is at risk for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, hail, floods and lightning. During Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan, the National Weather Service is encouraging residents to review severe weather safety procedures especially since they probably have not been put into action in some time. Plan ahead. Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do when severe weather threatens. The best time to prepare for severe weather is before it happens. Additional severe weather awareness week and weather safety information can be found at www.weather.gov/mqt.