Derecho of May 31, 1998May 30th, 2014 at 10:01 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
May 31st is the anniversary of the famous “derecho” thunderstorm outbreak of 1998. Around 5 AM that Sunday morning, the storms blasted through West Michigan with winds estimated as high as 130 mph in Grand Haven and Walker. According to the Storm Prediction Center, this episode ranks as one of the top thunderstorm events in world history! A large area of significant wind damage occurred from South Dakota all the way to the East Coast. In Michigan, there were four fatalities and 153 people were injured. Not a single stoplight was working between Grand Rapids and Baldwin. The toll would have been much worse if the storms would have come through in the afternoon instead of in the early morning when most people were asleep in their homes. I went out to visit Spencer, S.D. where the worst tornado occurred as the supercells first formed. That small town was pretty much wiped out. The supercells eventually formed the line that raced from eastern S.D. to Massachusetts and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Sixteen years later you can still identify swaths where most of the trees were blown over (White Lake exit on US 31 – the Spring Lake Cemetery). Here’s a radar loop from S. Dakota to Michigan. Read more here, here, and here. More pics. here. The 1998 storm was a “once in a lifetime event”. I would be surprised if we saw an event of that intensity (130 mph wind gusts in Grand Haven and Walker) and widespread area again in my lifetime. Here’s pictures from Grand Haven after the storm. Note this thread has been moved up from 2012. This year’s comments start with #27.
Also, check out these old pictures of downtown G.R.
Model update: Overnight run of the European gives G.R. 1.43″ of rain from late Sun. night to early Tuesday and another 0.85″ of rain on Weds. (and maybe a shower next Friday). The GFS-lot has 0.90″ for late Sun. night into Tues. AM and 0.67″ of rain on Weds. The NAM (caribou) is the lowest on rain with 0.32″ from Sun. night into early Tues.