What a Rude Awakening; The Derecho of May 31st 1998!

I remember it like it was just a few years ago; the Derecho of May 31st,1998. I'm sure all on shift will also remember that morning as many of my co-workers and the MI-CON DTX team, stayed overnight from the evening shift Saturday due to the violent weather that was taking shape upstream and expected locally. Ironically; my new and admired boss, Mr. Richard Calcaterra arrived on the scene from what I remember was his first day after relocating from Tennessee. He came in early that Sunday morning to assistance me and then later; to relieve this fatigued weatherman who had been on duty since at least 4 PM Saturday.

Meteorologists, severe weather weenies and all others; take a look at this radar loop! This derecho plowed through Lower Michigan with a forward speed at around 70 miles an hour; tearing up the countryside as she trekked mainly east across Southeast Lower Michigan. Just as captivating, is this longer term radar loop from the Storm Prediction Center /SPC/. Watch as the derecho surges from the Dakotas, through the Upper Midwest and into the Great Lakes from Saturday evening into Sunday morning. And, just as intriguing; note as the cooler intense outflows from the primary line as they plow into the warm and very unstable air mass; giving birth to new lines of severe storms as they join in the "attack"!

It was just after dawn, when that previously eerie tranquil silence of the Sunday morning was shattered by this ferocious evil side of mother nature! I prepared the weather balloon ahead of the squall, just after 6 AM EDT and released after 7 AM. Meanwhile; winds were gusting up to 100 mph out west along Lake Michigan at Muskegon and Holland; and then shortly after at Grand Rapids. Across Southeast Lower Michigan; wind gusts /mph/ that were clocked in the 60s, 70s and some 80s were all too common as this intense severe weather squall flattened or damaged a widespread hunk of Lower Michigan!

There were two deaths attributed to the storms; resulting from falling trees. One death occurred in Pinconning in Bay County as a tree fell onto a house; while the other death one was in Huron county when a tree fell onto a tent with two occupants in Port Crescent State Park. Ironically (or maybe not), two injuries that occurred in Holly (Oakland County) were also a result of a tree falling onto a tent. The damage across Southeast Lower Michigan was most concentrated from Detroit's northern suburbs north across the Flint, Saginaw Valley, and Thumb regions. An earlier write-up on the Derecho of 5/31/98 originating at DTX can be found here; while another from SPC is located here along with a great tutorial on derechos.

Look for my Summer 2012 Outlook due out the last week of May.

Making weather fun while we all learn,
Bill Deedler -SEMI_WeatherHistorian


  1. Hi there, yes this post is really good and I have learned lot of things from it on the weather and topic of blogging. thanks.

  2. Thanks, that makes the time and effort well worthwhile.

  3. Bill Deedler Rocks

  4. You should write a book, you have soo much knowledge.

  5. I appreciate the kind remarks; maybe some day I will write a book about my times in the NWS and eventful weather along the way.