Remembering the Michigan Blizzard of 1978

Michigan Blizzard 1978

Blizzard of ’78 – Somerset, MI, photo by Bill

The most extensive and very nearly the most severe blizzard in Michigan history raged January 26, 1978 and into part of Friday January 27. About 20 people died as a direct or indirect result of the storm, most due to heart attacks or traffic accidents. At least one person died of exposure in a stranded automobile. Many were hospitalized for exposure, mostly from homes that lost power and heat. About 100,000 cars were abandoned on Michigan highways, most of them in the southeast part of the state.
~C. R. Snider, National Weather Service Meteorologist in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Today is Michigan’s 179th birthday, but it’s also the anniversary of one of the most significant storms to ever hit the state, the Great Blizzard of 1978. There’s a cool video below with a lot of photos from the storm (thanks Steve for sharing). William Deedler’s article A Great Storm is Upon Michigan says in part:

While there are several contenders for the worst blizzard ever to hit the Great Lakes in relatively modern times (since 1870 when records began in Detroit), the immense and intense Blizzard of January 26-27th 1978 must rank at or near the top along with the Great White Hurricane of 1913 (my link) with its similar track and powerfulness.

…As the Arctic air circulated throughout the storm while it made its way over Lake Huron, the lowest pressure was reached around 950 millibars or a hurricane-like 28.05 inches! “A Great Storm is Upon Michigan” read the headline of the 800 AM EST Special Weather Statement issued by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Ann Arbor that Thursday /26th/ morning. Heavy snow and blizzard conditions were extensive as wind gusts in excess of 35 mph whipped the snow into huge drifts across much of Southeast Lower Michigan. Other areas of Eastern Michigan, Indiana and Ohio reported near hurricane-force winds, heavy snow and temperatures hovering between zero and 10 above, resulting in extreme blizzard conditions. These conditions later expanded further east into Pennsylvania and West Virginia and prevailed into the night (26-27th) across much of the Eastern Great Lakes, Southern Ontario and the Upper Ohio Valley. With the storm generating copious amounts of snow and very strong winds, whiteout conditions were widespread. All land and air traffic came to a stand still in the affected regions. Several major roads were closed for at least two to three days, if not longer, while clean up got underway. Numerous NWS employees were stranded at work, home, or on the road somewhere between the two. Several employees worked double shifts into at least Friday (some longer) because of the impassable roads with others simply unable to get to work.

The Blizzard Warnings were allowed to die across Michigan during the forenoon hours of Friday, the 27th. Record 24 hour snowfall totals from the storm included, 16.1 inches at Grand Rapids, 15.4 inches at Houghton Lake and 12.2 at Dayton, OH. Snowfalls for the entire storm (25-27th) included a whopping 30.0 inches at Muskegon (some of which was Lake Michigan enhanced), 19.3 inches at Lansing and 19.2 at Grand Rapids. Snowfalls were less over Southeast Lower Michigan (mainly because of the rain that fell for a period) and included 9.9 inches at Flint and 8.2 inches at Detroit.

Read on for more about the storm.

View Bill’s photo background big and see more in his Kelso: The Wonder Years slideshow.

 

Winter at Bond Falls

Winter at Bond Falls

Winter at Bond Falls, photo by Aime Lucas Photography

The Bond Falls entry at GoWaterfalling.com says:

Bond Falls is in the western U.P. on Bond Falls Rd, east of Pauding MI. This is the most impressive waterfall in Michigan with the possible exception of Tahquamenon Falls. The main drop is 40 feet high and 100+ feet wide. Above the main falls are a series of cascades and rapids that must drop a total of 20 feet.

The water level is controlled by a dam, and a steady flow over the falls is maintained for scenic reasons. Of course during the spring melt the flow is much higher.

Bond Fall is a Michigan State Scenic Site. The site was renovated around 2003. The old parking area was upstream of the falls, and a steep concrete stairway led to the base of the falls. The new parking area is near the base of the falls, and a level boardwalk leads you to prime views of the falls.

Read on for more including directions to the falls.

Aime writes: The majestic Bond Falls. Normally a short, easy walk but in the winter a very hazardous one. The steep steps were covered with a few layers of ice and the path was extremely slippery. It was totally worth it.

View her photo bigger, follow her on Facebook, and purchase prints and see more work on her website!

Many more Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures.

Yellow Dog Falls and Michigan’s Water

Yellow Dog Falls near Big Bay

Yellow Dog Falls near Big Bay, photo by Michigan Nut Photography

Have I said lately how great Go Waterfalling is? It’s the best! There’s comprehensive and informative listing with solid advice for visiting waterfalls in Michigan, neighboring Ontario & Wisconsin and the rest of the nation from California to West Virginia.

The Go Waterfalling page on Yellow Dog Falls says (in part):

Yellow Dog Falls is the name given to the main drop on the Yellow Dog River east of Country Road 510. The river steadily descends on it way down to Lake Superior, and there are at least seven drops of varying sizes. Many are only a few feet in height. At Yellow Dog Falls the river drops over 20 feet in a short distance. This feature is distinctive because of the large boulder that splits the falls in two.

The falls is located off of County Road 510. Just south of the bridge over the Yellow Dog River there is a small parking area on the east side. There is a trail to the main falls, which are about 1 mile downstream. The trail continues, but becomes increasingly faint for another mile or so, taking you past half a dozen rapids and small falls.

More including directions, maps and photos at Go Waterfalling.

Full disclosure: I can’t talk about the without thinking about the Eagle Mine, a ticking time bomb that sits at the headwaters of this beautiful river. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on this mine, pro and con. I will say that acid sulfide mines have done this to rivers in the West and that acid mines from a hundred years ago in Colorado and two thousand years ago in the Roman Empire continue to seep pollution.

A decade ago I worked with a group of local citizens, business owners, and organizations on Save the Wild UP, an organization dedicated to keeping sulfide mining out of Michigan.The mine was ultimately established and more are planned, including uranium mines. Sulfide mines, and any project that carries a significant risk of pollution are not Pure Michigan in any way, and I will always call to reject threats like this to the water that is our economic and spiritual lifeblood.

John aka Michigan Nut writes: Yellow Dog Falls near Big Bay, Michigan. It was really quite remarkable what little snow and ice there was on Christmas Day. The road to this falls is normally part of a designated snowmobile trail this time of year.

View the photo bigger and see lots more on the Michigan Nut Photography Facebook page.

More mighty Michigan waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures.

Winter Solstice: Ten seconds at Tahquamenon edition

winter-solstice-at-tahquamenon-falls

winter solstice, upper tahquamenon falls, michigan, photo by twurdemann

I wrote that the actual moment of the solstice was 11:48 PM last night, but it’s actually TONIGHT!  Anyway, here’s a simply gorgeous photo from the 2013 winter solstice at Tahquamenon Falls to kick off the shortest day of the year. I hope you can fit everything in and get a great start to your week!

View twurdemann’s incredible ten-second exposure bigger and see more including some more shots of the dramatically different scene at the Falls in 2013 in his winter slideshow.

Lots more Tahquamenon Falls and more about the winter solstice on Michigan in Pictures!

Waterfall Wednesday: Quartzite Falls on the Slate River

Quartzite Falls on the Slate River

Quartzite Falls on the Slate River, photo by Amie Lucas

Waterfalls of the Keewenaw’s page on Quartzite Falls says:

Quartzite Falls is a perfect little waterfall high above the rugged gorge on Slate River. The river drops in a sudden crescent onto a large, flat slide of slate before flowing into a deep pool surrounded by cedars. Quartzite Falls may be small, but it’s shape and scenic area makes for an amazing waterfall experience.

This waterfall is a short distance downstream of Black Slate Falls, easy walking distance from the road and about a mile from the slate quarries of Arvon. These three areas make for an excellent little adventure that is fairly accessible for all ages.

You can click through for directions and some pics. Amie took this back in October and writes:

The Slate River is magnificent. I spent an entire day traversing over rough, steep terrain & wading through cold water on slippery rocks to visit places that felt like no one had ever been before. Quartzite Falls, one of the many beauties on this river, is one of the easier waterfalls to access.

View her photo background bigilicious, follow her on Facebook and definitely check out her waterfall gallery and others at her photography website!

Many more Michigan waterfalls and (if you can’t let go of autumn) more fall wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Fantastic Friday: Tahquamenon Falls, take two

I had no idea on Wednesday that we’d be back at Tahquamenon Falls so soon. I guess I have to add a safety warning that if you’re not a crazy amazing kayaking legend like Marcelo Galizio, you probably shouldn’t do this. Also it might be illegal. Also if you tell me I shouldn’t post photos like this, I will probably tell you you shouldn’t follow my blog because I am 100% in favor of people being amazing.

Tahquamenon Falls revisited with Marcelo Galizio

Tahquamenon Falls revisited, photo by Aerial Vantage Productions

Here’s an aerial photo of Marcelo Galizio’s drop over Tahquamenon Falls yesterday!!  Look for a link to a video soon in the comments or at Aerial Vantage Productions on Facebook. Also be sure to check out their work at aerialvantageproductions.com and follow Dan Englund on Instagram!

Because this is so awesome, and also because I learned about it through Gary Ennis, here’s another photo from Marcelo’s Tahquamenon Falls adventure:

Into the Falls Marcelo Galizio a

Be sure to click to check out Gary’s photos of Marcelo’s entire drop!

Autumn Squared: Fall Color at Tahquamenon Falls

Tahquamenon Falls fall 2015

Tahquamenon Falls, Luce County, Michigan, photo by twurdemann

We’ll return to the fall color farewell tour with a photo from Michigan’s largest waterfall, Tahquamenon Falls (pronounced as spelled – tah-qua-me-non). It’s located in Tahquamenon Falls State Park which:

…encompasses close to 50,000 acres stretching over 13 miles. Most of this is undeveloped woodland without roads, buildings or power lines. The centerpiece of the park, and the very reason for its existence, is the Tahquamenon River with its waterfalls. The Upper Falls is one the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It has a drop of nearly 50 feet and is more than 200 feet across. A maximum flow of more than 50,000 gallons of water per second has been recorded cascading over these falls. Four miles downstream is the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. Although not as dramatic as the Upper Falls, they are equally magnificent. The falls can be viewed from the river bank or from the island, which can be reached by rowboat rented from a park concession. The island walk affords a view of the falls in the south channel.
This is the land of Longfellow’s Hiawatha – “by the rushing Tahquamenaw” Hiawatha built his canoe. Long before the white man set eyes on the river, the abundance of fish in its waters and animals along its shores attracted the Ojibwa Indians, who camped, farmed, fished and trapped along its banks. In the late 1800’s came the lumber barons and the river carried their logs by the millions to the mills. Lumberjacks, who harvested the tall timber, were among the first permanent white settlers in the area.

Rising from springs north of McMillan, the Tahquamenon River drains the watershed of an area of more than 790 square miles. From its source, it meanders 94 miles before emptying into Whitefish Bay. The amber color of the water is caused by tannins leached from the Cedar, Spruce and Hemlock in the swamps drained by the river. The extremely soft water churned by the action of the falls causes the large amounts of foam, which has been the trademark of the Tahquamenon since the days of the voyager.

Read on for more and maps & camping information. I’ll add that November through April are great months to visit Tahquamenon Falls – very few people!

twurdemann shares that this view of the the Upper Tahquamenon Falls was a three second exposure with a B+W ND106 six stop solid neutral density filter on a Fuji XT1 + XF 55-200mm. View it bigger and see more in his Waterfalls slideshow.

Lots more fall color and waterfalls on Michigan in Pictures!