A 60 car pileup, blizzard conditions, and an ice jam 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 February 20.
1898 – A snowstorm dumps over a foot of snow on parts of Lower Michigan on the 20th to the 21st. Grand Rapids has 11 inches from this storm and almost 30 inches for the month of February.
1951 – Ice jam flooding along the Grand River in Portland damages several buildings and forces the evacuation of some neighborhoods near the river.
1988 – Snow and strong northerly winds ushered arctic air into the Great Lakes Region. The temperature at Sault Ste. Marie, MI plunged from 30° at 5 AM to -1° by 3 PM, with a wind chill reading of -40°. (National Weather Summary)
2002 – 12.3 inches of record snowfall fell at the Weather Forecast Office in Marquette, part of the snowiest month ever recorded. An area of low pressure moved across central Lower Michigan. The precipitation fell as rain initially, but changed over to snow as the system passed to the east of Michigan. A small area of 10 to 14 inches of snowfall fell across Chippewa County in eastern Upper Michigan. Precipitation began as rain over Upper Michigan, but as cold air from the northeast wrapped around the low, the rain changed to snow. As temperatures fell below freezing, water from the earlier rain turned to ice on many area roads, closing or delaying schools in the west and east. Temperatures remained in the lower 30s during most of this event, so the snowfall was unusually wet and heavy for February, making snow removal more difficult. Total snowfall was 15 inches in Negaunee, 14 inches in Ishpeming, 12 inches at Bergland and Newberry, 10 inches in Ironwood, Kenton and Paint Lake, and 9 inches in Rockland.
2004 – A strong low pressure system lifted northeast across Michigan. Precipitation ahead of the system started out as snow, and stayed that way across Eastern Upper Michigan. Six to twelve inches of snow fell here, with the highest amounts in western Mackinac County.
2005 – Much of Southeast Michigan was hit with a snowstorm with generally 6 to 9 inches of snow. The Tri Cities area was the hardest hit with many locations reporting 12 inches of snow.
2009 – Blizzard conditions subsided as Highway M-28 reopened by late morning in Alger County. Northwest winds gusting to 25 mph still caused some drifting of snow and reduction in visibility due to snow and blowing snow. Au Train-Onota and Munising schools remained closed on the 20th. The observer at Rainbow Lodge near Two Heart measured a 24-hour snowfall amount of 10.5 inches ending on the morning of the 18th, with a two-day storm total of 18.5 inches ending on the morning of the 19th. The observer in Newberry measured 8.9 inches of snow for the 24-hour period ending on the morning of the 20th. North winds gusting to 25 to 30 mph throughout much of the event also caused considerable blowing and drifting of snow. Tahquamenon Area Schools were closed on the 19th due to the heavy snow and blowing snow. A storm system originating over the Central Plains tracked through Lake Huron bringing heavy snow and blowing snow to much of north central and eastern Upper Michigan from Feb 17-20. North wind gusts of 45 to 50 mph behind the storm caused blizzard conditions for some locations along Lake Superior.
2011 – Southwest Michigan was hit by both snow and ice as from a strong storm. There was a 60 car pileup that closed US-131. A winter storm impacted southeast Michigan, with 5 to 10 inches of snow falling across the majority of the area. Snow turned to ice near the Ohio border, where a major ice storm occurred. Downed trees and power lines occurred over Lenawee and Monroe counties due to ice accumulations half an inch to one inch. Power outages lasted 4 to 5 days.