A bitter â??Arctic Attackâ?? descended on Upper Michigan along with the eastern two-thirds of the country in February of 1899. Temperatures across the U.P. bottomed-out well below zero for days, reaching a peak at mid-month when Iron Mountain dipped to 40 below zero. In Norway, many fire hydrants were frozen. Half the town was borrowing water from the hydrants of the other half. Up in Negaunee, old-timers said they had never seen the Carp River so thickly covered with ice. By mid-February the river was frozen to a depth of two feet.
The cold weather lingered into March, culminating in a â??great snowstormâ?? on March 11-13, 1899 (Image above). The storm developed over the southern Rockies, reformed over the Texas Panhandle on the 11th, drifted eastward into Missouri and then hooked sharply northeastward into Wisconsin on March 12. The storm took the perfect path for heavy snow over the Upper Peninsula.
A warm up occurred ahead of the storm. In fact, the early morning weather map of March 11, 1899 showed temperatures in the 30s over the U.P. with a report of rain in Marquette. However, the lingering cold pattern produced one more arctic high pressure system that filtered cold air in while the storm peaked the next day. Early morning readings on March 12 were only in the teens with strong northeasterly winds likely producing enhanced snowfall off Lake Superior. The snow continued in many northern areas well into March 13, since the arctic high settled just north of Lake Superior producing northerly winds and lake-effect.
March 1899 ended with a mean temperature of 15.8 degrees, nearly eight degrees below the long-term average in Marquette. The coldest March on record in the city was 14 years early. March 1885â??s mean was a bitter 12.1 degrees. On the other hand, seven years before that in 1878, the mean temperature was an incredible 40.3 degrees, by far the warmest March in the record books. More recently, the historic warmth of mid-March 2012 lead to the warmest third month of record at the NWS near Negaunee; the mean temperature was 39.7 degrees, 15.5 degrees above average. March 2014 will likely end toward the bitter side of normal, though it is not likely to be as cold as March 1885.