In my opinion May is the nicest of the spring months and on average along with September are the best months weather wise in west Michigan (September is the better of the two IMO) May like the other spring months can have big day to day and year to year swings in both precipitation and temperatures. For example, the hottest day in May was a very hot 95° on May 31st 1934 to a crisp cold low of 21° on May 1st 1903. The average high starts out at 65° and works its way up to 74° by the end of the months and the average low starts out at 43° and is up to 53° by the end. The mean temperature for May at Grand Rapids is 58.7° the warmest mean temperature for May was 65.7° in 1977 and the coldest mean temperature for May was twenty years later with a cool 50.3° in 1997. (the average mean for April is 48.3° so 1997 was a cold May) The average amount of precipitation for May is 3.98” with the most 10.01” falling in 2001 and the driest May was in 1936 when only 0.72” fell. On average May receives less than a trace of snow but in May of 1923 Grand Rapids (and much of lower Michigan) had a true snowstorm and here in Grand Rapids we recorded a almost unbelievable 5.5” of snow. All falling on May 9th 1923 (some other snow fall reports for May 9th 1923 Flint 12” Lansing 11.5” Saginaw 9” Muskegon 5”) In May of 1902 grand Rapids also had 5.5” of snow. That year the snow fell on May 10th In 1929 Grand Rapids had 3.0” of snow in May in that year the May snow storm was on May 2nd The last time Grand Rapids had over one inch of snow in May happened in 1954 when 2.0” of snow fell. In May of 1954 the snow fell on May 3, 4 and 5th the last year where GR had more than a trace of snow was in 1990 when 0.2” fell on May 10th The most sun shine for May happened in 1958 with 84.5% and in May of 1973 Grand Rapids had a November like total sun shine amount of only 28.2% the highest reported wind gust for May happened on May 5th 1950 with a reported gust of 79 MPH. Last May was the 4th warmest May in Grand Rapids recorded history. The last 10 days were all 80° or warmer and the last 6 days seen highs of 85, 86, 87, 93, 93 and 94. A rare may heat wave.
Some past weather events for May in the state of Michigan
1896 May 25th 5 powerful tornadoes march eastward across Tuscola, Genesee, and Oakland counties the most powerful one leaves 47 dead in its half wide 30 mile long track it was estimated (not sure by who) that the winds exceeded 260 Mph
1917 Marquette’s harbor is closed due to ice until May 17th
1923 May 9th snowstorm with up to a foot of snow falling at Flint and just under a foot at Lansing may areas in lower Michigan seen 5+ inches of snow on this date.
1929 Another snowy May with 2.5” at Gull Lake and 13” at Atlanta (west of Alpena)
1952 A powerful Northwest wind floods parts of Sault St Marie on May 5th
1953 another powerful storm hits Lake Superior with winds of over 60 MPH on May 11th sending the freighter Henry Steinbrenner to the bottom of the lake with all of her 17-man crew.
1956 At 5:06 AM May 13 the tip of a funnel cloud reportedly passes less than 100 feet above the National weather bureau office at Muskegon.
1964 Severe weather is reported over much of lower Michigan on May 8th with the worst being a tornado that strikes Mt Clemens killing 11 and destroying 132 homes.
1966 an May cold snap sends the temperature down to bone chilling +8 at Vanderbilt.
1970 Several powerful thunder storms rocks the Detroit area for several hours on May 22-23 starting several fires including one at the Crucible Steel Co that has gone down as Michigan most damaging lightning strike
1980 May 13th a tornado rips through the Kalamazoo leaving 5 dead and destroying or damaging around 1000 buildings. Another tornado hit Van Buren county with over 700 more building either destroyed or damaged. And yet another storm system brought more tornadoes and high winds to Southwest Michigan on May 30th with winds reaching a reported 115 at St Joseph.
1983 On May 2nd a tornado touches down in Detroit and damages dozens of homes, several boats and a airplane hangar.
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