I have lived in Michigan my whole life. It is a very beautiful state, with thousands of lakes, rivers and creeks and with millions of acres of deep woods and forests. Both of our peninsulas are almost completely surrounded by 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. For those people who have never visited Michigan or have not stood on one of the Great Lakes beaches, they would be amazed that our Lakes are like standing in front of an ocean when you are on their shores.
And just like how the oceans greatly influence weather patterns around the world, our Great Lakes do the same thing here to our weather in Michigan and in the other states that border them. We have an old Michigan saying: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes because it will always change.”
Michigan is also at the northern end of “Tornado Alley” so the bottom half of the Lower Peninsula frequently has a lot of tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings throughout the spring, summer and fall months. The Great Lakes’ breezes and winds that bring in dryer, cooler air from the north and west often clash with the warmer and more humid air that gets whooshed up Tornado Alley from the south towards Michigan. And those clashes are responsible for Michigan’s wilder year-round weather of tornadoes, thunderstorms with dangerous yet beautiful lightning displays, thick fogs, deep snow, and ice storms.
One of the deadliest F-5 tornadoes in the United States, the Beecher tornado, occurred in Michigan on June 8, 1953. There were 116 people killed, 844 injured and $19,000,000 worth of damage (in 1953 money). Even though that horrible tornado happened 2 1/2 years before I was born, I grew up hearing many sad and frightening stories about it from my numerous relatives who lived near or worked in the Beecher area just outside the city of Flint.
When I was 10, we moved from Flint to Flushing Township very near Coldwater and Elms roads. Our house was just a mile from where the Beecher Tornado had churned into its birth at the corner of Coldwater and Webster Roads. I often thought about that awful tornado and the horrible stories I’d long heard about whenever I passed that tornado birthplace crossroads that had occurred so close to my home.
But I have experienced my own share of wild weather stories about tornadoes, snowstorms, fog and thunderstorms. So because there is rarely a dull moment with our Michigan weather, here are some stories of mine to prove it.