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      June 18. 1908: Destructive Hailstorm in Ironwood

      A persistent boundary separating hot, humid air from cool, dry air to the north has brought heavy rains in areas to our south.

      We are approaching the sixth anniversary of the fierce hailstorm in Marquette, which occurred on June 20, 2007. This is the time of year for big hailstorms in the Upper Midwest. The low-level atmosphere continues to warm as we approach the warmest time of the summer. At the same time, there is still enough cold air aloft to produce large hailstones in the largest, most intense thunderstorms. Looking back in Upper Michigan weather history, one of the most destructive storms to hit a populated area occurred 105 years ago today.

      â??The worst wind and hail storm in the history of Ironwoodâ?? broke over the city shortly after 6:00 p.m. June 18, 1908. Hailstones measuring as large as four inches in circumference rained down during the height of the storm, accompanied by a torrential downpour. Driven by high winds, the hail smashed windows in every section of the city.

      Florist R. Lutey suffered the most damage of any Ironwood area business as the majority of the windows in his greenhouse were shattered. Forty windows were broken at Central School with all other school buildings sustaining significant window damage. Stained glass in area churches â??were pierced as if there had been a fusillade of bullets.â?? In all cases, damage was the worst on west and north sides of buildings facing the stormâ??s prevailing wind.

      With windows broken, flooding rain freely entered homes, soaking floors and damaging carpets, rugs and hangings. Shade trees were broken and uprooted. The next day everyone in town was busy cleaning up. Window glass soon became a precious commodity; no glass dealer in town was prepared for the demand caused by this fierce hailstorm.

      Significant hail has been at a premium so far this June in Upper Michigan. The reason lies in the fact that, so far, we have been out of the action when it comes to big rains and thunderstorms. The main frontal boundary has set up to the south where Iowa, parts of Illinois and Wisconsin have had repeated rounds of thunderstorms. The main front has set up there separating hot, humid air from the cooler air weâ??ve been experiencing so far this monthâ??for that matter, this entire spring and early summer. There are indications that the next round of active weather may work a little farther north and affect the Upper Great Lakes during this upcoming weekend. On the other hand, persistence argues for the boundary to remain where the soils are the wettest (Image 1 above). Hopefully, for the sake of crops and water tables, the weather will turn wet again in Upper Michigan.