On this date 42 years ago, an old-fashioned southern Plains snowstorm brought a record-shattering 17 inches of snow to Iron Mountain. This stands as the heaviest calendar-day total on record. Available records at Iron Mountain go back to 1949. This storm developed over north Texas early on January 3, 1971. It lifted northeastward and deepened to a position near Milwaukee the next morning (Images 1 and 2 above). Behind the storm, brutally cold air eventually took over the weather controls and lingered through the end of the month.
In more recent times, heavy snow blasted portions of the western and northern U.P. on January 2-3, 1999. Ironwood was buried under 20 inches of snow in 24 hours, while Calumet measured nearly 15. The snow fell on the backside of the January 1999 Blizzard that brought heavy snow over a wide area of the central U.S. Chicago had over 20 inches of snow, while Milwaukee had around over a foot. The three-day total at the National Weather Service near Negaunee was an impressive 31 inches.
This storm developed farther east than the 1971 storm, but ended up in nearly the same spot 24 hours later (Images 3 and 4). This meant that snowfall in places like Iron Mountain wasnâ??t as heavy because the main system snow fell farther south and east. The heaviest snows over Upper Michigan fell in conjunction with lake enhancement off Lake Superior.No big snowstorms are in our immediate future. However, there is still a lot of winter ahead, so if you like snow, keep your spirits up--better days are coming!