Ron Hilliard: It’s the 100th anniversary of this unusual May snow record in Michigan

A look at Southeast Michigan’s biggest May snowstorm

Snow in Marquette, Michigan, on May 2, 2023. (NWS Marquette)

4Warn Weather – Normal highs are around 70 degrees, and average lows are around 50 degrees in mid-May in Metro Detroit. Besides a few exceptions, we are going into a stretch of near-normal weather.

So, snow is not in the forecast this time.

But, it was at the start of the month.

Rain and snow were observed at Detroit Metro and Flint Bishop airports on May 1 and May 2 this year. During that same two-day period, Marquette -- the Upper Peninsula’s largest city -- picked up more than two feet of snow (26.2 inches), according to the National Weather Service.

It has snowed in Michigan as late into the spring season as late May. How late exactly?

The latest measurable snowfall recorded in Detroit was on May 22, 1883, when 2.7 inches fell. Just over 2 inches had fallen the previous day for a two-day total of 5 inches.

In Flint, half of an inch fell on May 26, 1961. The latest date that any snowflakes fell on the Detroit area was May 31, 1910.

So, what is significant about May 9?

It is the latest date of the season that Southeast Michigan accumulated at least a foot of snow.

On May 9, 1923, a total of 12 inches fell in Flint, 9 inches in Saginaw, and 6 inches in Detroit. North and west of Detroit, some 6 to 9 inches fell in the Ann Arbor area, Howell, Pontiac, and Port Huron.

According to records maintained by the NWS, the snowstorm caused “widespread damage” to trees, power lines, and poles. The snow was reportedly all gone by the next evening.

In other words, May 9 is the centennial of a very unusual day in Southeast Michigan’s weather history. Celebrate safely.

Biggest May 9 snowstorms in Michigan history (WDIV)

About the Author:

Ron is a Detroiter and MSU grad who has a tremendous passion for meteorology. He joined the 4Warn Weather Team in March 2023.