Iâ??ve been in the Upper Peninsula for 25 winters, and Iâ??ve seen a lot of snowstorms. My favorite is still the storm of January 26-27, 1996.
Mid-to-late January â??96 was a stormy time in the Upper Midwest. A complex system on January 18-19 dumped rain, sleet, freezing rain and heavy snow on the Upper Peninsula. Many areas of the western third received more than two feet of snow.
Just over a week later, the storm of focus began to develop off the Rockies. It was one of those systems that intensify as it moves into the Great Lakes. These usually drop the greatest snow and bring the strongest winds to the U.P. The low sat over the extreme southwestern Missouri on Friday morning, January 26 with a pressure of 1003 millibars (29.62 inches). Twenty-four hours later, the storm was centered near the Sault and had deepened to 989 millibars (29.21 inches).
Heavy snow developed over Iowa and southern Minnesota during the day Friday. Even with very cold air in place, thundersnow developed over central Iowa at Des Moines; a sign that the storm was really wrapping up. The snow shield reached the southern fringe of Upper Michigan by evening and spread rapidly northward. The system brought the two main ingredients for a big one over the U.P. Friday night into early Saturday. Those ingredients are snow and wind. Heavy snow fell through the night with northeast winds gusting over 40 miles-per-hour. By morning, 23 inches of snow fell in about 15 hours at the National Weather Service (NWS) site near Negaunee. In Skandia, southeast of Marquette, 28 inches was measured at the storms conclusion. Deep drifts were created by the strong gusty winds.
The quick-hitting snowstorm had a relatively low impact on Upper Peninsula residents since it occurred on a weekend. Road crews were able to clear the snow clogged roads without much problem by late Sunday. Then another, lighter snowstorm greeted U.P. residents to start the next work week. After that system passed, a memorable cold wave plunged in from the arctic and last through the first week of February. While the cold moderated afterwards, winter hung on late into the spring of1996.