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      Memorial Day Snowstorm of 1947

      Big snows fell from this unusual storm leading up to Memorial Day 1947.

      A major snowstorm hit a wide area of the Midwest in late May 1947. The system was reminiscent of a mid-winter snow event dropping significant accumulations from Nebraska to Iowa and then northeastward into central Wisconsin and the eastern U.P. Not many folks seemed to recall this storm; maybe because the snow melted quickly or no one wanted to remember a big snow on Memorial Day. One U.P. resident that did remember was Spar Sager. He was employed by the U.S. Forest Service at the time and was looking forward to the holiday off. â??Rather than come straight home,â?? he remembers, â??I decided to stop on the way and pitch my little shelter tent and catch some fish in the morning.â?? Sager drove off the road in the Carp Plains area in Schoolcraft County found a good spot, pitched his tent and settled in for the night.

      The next morning he awoke to the feeling of the cold, wet canvas roof of the tent against his body. He removed the tent from his face, extended his elbows and maneuvered his way to the door to see what had happened. Sager was startled as he gazed out on a snow-covered landscapeâ??about six inches of the wettest, sloppiest snow had come down while he slept.

      â??That cancelled the fishing trip,â?? he recalls. The snow weighed down the tag alders across the stream, rendering fly-fishing impossible. Worse yet, he was stuck. His car could not be driven over the rough, hummocky ground covered with six inches of slush. â??It would just slide and slide, so I had to sit there and do nothing until late afternoon before I could get out.â?? Sager explains that while there was still some snow left even after the warmth of a late May day, it melted enough so he could drive out. The tires cut right through the remaining slush to the brush underneath, which provided enough traction to keep the car moving forward.

      Farther east, nearly a foot of snow was said to have come down between Eckerman and Paradise. Officially, Sault Ste. Marie reported three inches of snow out of the storm while Marquette received less than an inch. Accompanying the snow was cold. In North Dakota, the town of Eckman reported a low temperature of 15 degrees and in Detroit, residents shivered through the coldest Memorial Day since the frigid spring of 1884.