A November tornado, Mackinac Bridge power and deadly shipwrecks 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 November 27.
1855 – The wood schooner, 2-mast Windham, while carrying lumber, lay to shelter from a storm, but a failure of the watch allowed her to drag her anchor and go on the rocks in Death’s Door passage in Lake Michigan. Her crew huddled on the damaged ship for a day, during which time the brig Montezuma passed her distress signal without stopping. The crew was finally taken off by the brig Geneva.
1867 – The wood bark, 3-mast R.G. Winslow was bound Chicago for Buffalo, when she stranded in a gale at Spectacle Reef in Lake Huron and later broke up. Several vessels passed nearby while she was flying her distress signals, but none stopped to give her aid. Her crew finally made it to the bark Annie Vought, stranded nearby, then got to shore on their own.
1872 – The wood schooner Charles C. Griswold, while carrying grain, was overwhelmed and destroyed offshore in a gale off Whitefish point in Lake Superior. All 6 crew members were killed. In a separate incident nearby, the wood schooner-barge, bulk freight Jupiter, while carrying iron ore, was bound Marquette for Wyandotte, Mich., when she was driven ashore and wrecked by an arctic gale near Vermilion Point, MI in Lake Superior. She was in tow of steamer John A. Dix with the schooner Saturn, when towline parted. The hull was probably recovered. All of the crew of either 7 or 8 perished on the Jupiter.
1889 – The wood, bulk freight “steambarge” Anna Smith, while carrying coal, was driven ashore by a gale and broken up by wave action 7 miles below the Cheboygan, MI, lighthouse in Lake Huron. She had been bound for Milwaukee towing the schooner Red Wing, where she was to go into winter quarters. One crewman drowned in a solo attempt to make it ashore on a hatch cover – the rest were rescued by the tug Clayt. The wreck burned to the water’s edge Nov 30. The ship was a total loss of $47,000.
1905 – The steel, bulk freight Mataafa, while carrying iron ore, was outbound from Duluth with the barge James Nasmyth, when she was unable to breast a terrific gale. She turned back, dropped the barge some miles out and tried to make Duluth harbor. Her machinery failed and she was driven on the breakwater, where she broke in two. Heroic effort by Lifesaving Service saved the forward crew but those stranded on the after end froze to death within sight of a crowd gathered on the breakwater. 9 crew members died.
1930 – What a difference a week makes. After record highs in the 70s only a week before, temperatures plunge to record low levels. For the low temperatures the following records are established, Lansing 5°, Detroit 9°, and Flint 4°. Even more cities have record cool highs for the day, Grand Rapids only observes a high of 15°, Lansing 16°, Alpena 18°, Detroit 18°, Houghton Lake 17°, and Sault Ste. Marie 9°.
1965 – The bulk freighter Algosoo, struck the bottom in a gale as she was rounding Whitefish Point and suffered heavy damage to her hull. She continued her voyage, but was scrapped due to age and condition at the end of it.
1989 – Severe weather strikes Lower Michigan with downburst winds and tornadoes. A tornado did a quarter million dollars of damage as it cut a six mile path south of Portland in Ionia County. Another tornado caused minor damage over a three mile long path south of Durand in Shiawassee County.
1994 – High winds did extensive damage to the St. Ignace waterfront. The city marina, boardwalk and casino suffered the most damage. The east wind gusted to 82 mph on the Straits of Mackinac Bridge, forcing the closure of the bridge for 6 hours and 32 minutes, and backing-up traffic for at least 3.5 miles. The wind was the strongest recorded on the bridge since records began during the 1980s. Lightning cut power to the bridge at about 2000 EST. A barge carrying liquid asphalt grounded on the north side of Bois Blanc Island, just east of the Straits of Mackinac and was not freed for several days. The wind caused $500,000 in damage.
1995 – A snowstorm hit the Saginaw Valley and continued into the early morning hours of November 28. The storm left Saginaw with 11.1 inches of snow. This was on top of an already cold and snowy month. Saginaw received 23.0 inches of snow! This made November 1995 the snowiest November in Saginaw history and also the 16th snowiest month of all time in Saginaw. Remarkably, November 1995 for Saginaw is the only November to appear in the top 20 monthly snowfalls for Saginaw, Flint or Detroit.
2001 – A daily record snowfall of 19.2 inches of snow and 2.16 inches of record liquid water equivalent occurred at Weather Forecast Office in Marquette. The heavy wet snow brought down some trees and caused power outages over the higher terrain of north central Upper Michigan. Heavy snows occurred over western Upper Michigan as a low pressure system moved across the Great Lakes region. The snow began on the 26th and continued into the 28th into the midafternoon. Scattered power and telephone outages were reported as tree branches weighted down by the wet snow snapped and fell across the lines. Strong northeast winds enhanced the snowfall, adding moisture from Lake Superior. The greatest amounts fell on the central highlands overnight on the 26th and during the morning of the 27th. Thirty inches of snow fell at the National Weather Service Office near Negaunee. Other snowfall totals from the storm included 9 inches in Iron Mountain and Ontonagon, 10 inches at Amasa, Bruce Crossing and northwest Dickinson County near Channing, 11 inches in Rockland, Calumet, Herman and Pelkie, 12 inches at Stambaugh, Phoenix, Paint Lake near Kenton and at Fortune Lake near Crystal Falls, 13 inches in both Gwinn and Watton. The National Weather Service Office set daily record snowfalls on the 26th with 9.2 inches of snow and again on the 27th with 19.2 inches of new snow. The record snowfall on the 27th was also the all-time daily record for the month of November. The 2.16 inches of water equivalent on the 27th also set a record.
2007 – Wind gusts in excess of 65 mph were measured at the Munising ASOS at 930 am and at the Grand Marais GLOS site at 1040 am during the wind event. Throughout much of Munising, large trees and power lines were knocked down across roadways or driveways, blocking traffic and/or causing minor damage. Debris from homes including roofing shingles, corrugated plastic sheeting and trim from windows and doors littered Munising streets. The strong winds also toppled a large spruce tree onto the side of the Bowerman Funeral Home on Superior Street. A few minor accidents were attributed to the poor visibility brought on by the lake effect snow and blowing snow accompanying the storm. Eleven miles southwest of Munising, numerous trees were toppled along Sixteen-Mile Road. A 32-inch diameter hemlock tree was snapped in half five miles east-northeast of Pequaming. An 18-inch red pine and 24-inch white pine were snapped at the bases in Baraga County. An intense low pressure system moving over Lake Superior in the morning produced strong, gusty northerly winds and lake effect snow in its wake across the west and central Lake Superior shoreline areas of Upper Michigan. Snow and northwest winds gusting to 40 mph combined to reduce visibility to one half mile or less at Ironwood in the early morning hours. Classes were delayed two hours at both the Wakefield-Marenisco and Watersmeet schools while the morning kindergarten class at Wakefield-Marenisco was cancelled. Girls’ basketball games in Ironwood and Wakefield-Marenisco were cancelled as well. Downed trees and power lines were reported throughout the region as well as other property damage. Brief blizzard conditions in lake effect snow and blowing snow were also reported. Observers at Newberry and Rainbow Lodge measured four to six inches of snow as northwest winds gusted in excess of 40 mph at the Newberry AWOS during the peak of the storm. The combination of snow and blowing snow reduced visibility to a quarter mile or less at times. Michigan State Police reported several accidents related to the poor driving conditions from the storm. A 62 mph wind gust was measured at the Ontonagon GLOS site and sustained winds were measured at 49 mph.