A wild weather day was experienced across the Upper Peninsula on this date 75 years ago, all part of the wettest June on record for at least the central portion of the U.P. It started with a â??Giant Hailstone Downpourâ?? on the Gogebic Range during the early morning. Stones the size of marbles to larger than baseballs covered the ground; they did not completely melt until noon in some places. In Hurley, a mammoth stone eight inches in circumference was found shortly after the storm ended.
The greatest losses occurred at area greenhouses. At one greenhouse just north of Ironwood an estimated 800 panes were shattered. Accurate estimates of damage could not be made immediately because it was too dangerous to enter the glass buildings; jagged pieces of hanging glass kept falling from the roof, shook loose by high winds following the storm.
Ironwood, Bessemer and Wakefield all reported extensive damage to businesses and homes. In Bessemer Township, 103 windows were broken at the Puritan School, while many homes in town had windows smashed. Automobiles throughout the range were badly dented and fabric covered convertible tops were perforated by the huge stones.
Gardens and farm crops throughout the area sustained extensive damage, limited to some extent by late planting due to a wet spring. A number of workers at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the area were caught in the storm and pelted by hailstones. One young man required medical attention after being struck on the hand by one of the ice chunks.
Farther east, wind caused the most damage. At least a dozen barns and outbuildings were demolished as the severe squall line rolled through Trout Creek about an hour after hitting the Gogebic Range. The storm tore through the Ontonagon County community with â??cyclonic intensity,â?? bringing down telephone and electric power lines and uprooting 37 large trees on Main Street. The trees, some about two feet in diameter, tore out large sections of sidewalks and displaced sewer pipes. Just to the north in Bruce Crossing, a bad streak of luck continued on the Walter Schroeder homestead, blowing down the barn and hay shed located just south of town. The home on the farm had been destroyed by fire only two weeks before.
The storms marched across the entire peninsula. In Newberry, a mother and her two children were treated for shock after lightning struck their home, blasting a two-foot hole in the roof and wrecking the electrical equipment inside.
Marquetteâ??s Historic Seiche
On Lake Superior, a tremendous â??tidal wave,â?? or seiche, occurred on the Lake's basin in conjunction with the round of severe thunderstorms. A seiche is the rhythmic oscillation of a body of water. Seiches on the Great Lakes often occur in conjunction with severe weather, when prolonged strong winds push water toward one side of the lake causing water levels to rise on the downwind side of the lake and to drop on the windward side. When the wind stops, the water sloshes back and forth. The process can be likened to water sloshing back and forth in a pan after the pan is disturbed.
This seiche pushed and pulled the water of Lake Superior in and out of Marquette Bay at half-hour intervals beginning shortly after the storm passed through at 10:30 a.m. The freakish surge, â??unprecedented in the memory of marine men,â?? rose and fell five feet over several hours. At the same time, the Weather Bureau observed a tremendously â??jumpyâ?? barometer, with a change of 0.30 inches in just 15 minutes.
Docks, fish houses and small boats sustained extensive damage. Andrew Anderson, a Great Lakes fisherman of 38 years, said that he had never seen the lake rise so high before. It covered his landings, flooded his fish cleaning and packing house and rushed up behind the house to the road. Houses and docks were moved up and down by the lake waters.
â??Everything had just been fixed up for the season,â?? Anderson said while interviewed during the seiche. â??Now look at it.â?? He pointed to the landing, from which planks had been torn, and which sagged precariously in one spot. As he spoke, the water began to surge in again.
Farther up the shoreline to the west, the highway between Lâ??Anse and Baraga was closed; surging water brought debris from the lake over the roadway. On the north shore of Lake Superior, Canadian officials reported a rise of eight feet in 20 minutes in the waters of Heron Bay. It took until the next morning before the lake there reached normal levels.
The remarkable storm and seiche were part of a record-breaking month. Marquette recorded 8.64 inches of rain in June 1939, the wettest sixth month in its history.
June 2014 is running somewhat above in the rainfall department. The NWS has recorded 2.47 inches through the first 16 days of the month. That is nearly an inch above average. A new disturbance heading in from the southwest will affect us later tonight. There is a chance of showers across the U.P., especially over the south and east later tonight into Tuesday morning. The big rains and threat of severe weather should remain to the south.