Flooding rain poured down on the Gogebic Range and other western U.P. locations from July 19-22, 1909. The first installment of the deluge ??fell in sheets?? and then attained ??cloudburst proportions??. The second torrent descended on the water-soaked region two days later, dumping more than three inches of rain in less than four hours. Over 11 inches of rain swamped far western Upper Michigan and northwest Wisconsin during this four day period.
Basements and cellars in all sections of Ironwood were flooded during the first part of the storm, then again during the second installment. Storm sewers backed up in the downtown district; the water rose so quickly that goods stored in basements of businesses could not be moved to higher ground fast enough, causing heavy losses. The Montreal River rose over a foot higher than ever observed, but bridges across the river managed to hold out against the flood. A break occurred in the city water main after the second storm. It took a few days to locate and repair the leak and bring running water back to the entire city.
Heavy rain was widespread. Hancock sustained much damage during the rain on the 19th. Many residents?? cellars were inundated. A large portion of Front Street was washed away. A barber shop in the western part of the ??Hill City?? was flooded up to its chairs. Then another storm brought the ??season??s heaviest downpour?? two days later. In Duluth, the hillside on which the city is built ??became practically one great waterfall.?? Three children drowned during the torrential cloudburst of the second storm. About 20 homes were washed away along creeks in the city??s suburbs.
In Wisconsin, the Indian village of Odanah suffered the worst flooding of any town in the Lake Superior country. The town is situated at the confluence of several rivers and only a few feet above the level of the lake. On Wednesday, the water rose four feet in just over an hour after two dams broke. Fortunately, early warning was given to the village, preventing loss of life, but many buildings were washed away in the ensuing flood.
The deluge was caused by Plains low pressure that sent a warm front eastward just south of Upper Michigan. Warm, moist air flowing over the boundary set up rounds of thunderstorms. The low dropped from the Canadian Prairies to the southeast right across the Great Lakes (Images 1 & 2 above). As it moved to the east on the 22nd, the rain finally ended. An all-time daily record 6.72 inches of rain poured down on Ironwood July 20, 1909. The next day another five inches flooded the rain-soaked town.