The summer season concludes during August as West Michigan prepares for autumn. The typical high temperature cools from 82° on the 1st to 79° by the 31st. Low temperatures have the same trend. The low starts at 62° on the 1st and dips to 58° by the 31st.
Grand Rapids can see the first hint of autumn by the end of August. The record low temperature dips into the 30s for the first time since the 23 June. On the other end of the temperature spectrum, Grand Rapids only reached or exceeded the century mark four times since record keeping began. The last time was back in August 3, 1964.
The amount of daylight we can observe decreases by 1 hour and 17 minutes in August. Despite the loss of available sunshine, the percent of possible sunshine remains high; August is the third sunniest month with 61% of possible sunshine.
There are many interesting weather events for August. Some involve summer severe thunderstorms and their damaging forces, while others relate to intrusions of cool Canadian air. I’ll highlight a few of the notable events from the National Weather Service Archives. To see the complete list, ‘Subscribe’ to the Grand Rapids Weather Examiner for a daily email of historical events.
See the slideshow at the top of the page for more on the average and extreme August weather. This August may be on the chilly side, see more in the slideshow.
8/1/1993 – A severe storm in Kent County produced grapefruit-sized hail in Cannon Township, northeast of Grand Rapids.
8/5/1968 – Tornadoes caused scattered damage across Lower Michigan. One tornado hit southeast of Grand Rapids, damaging several farms from Kentwood and into Ionia County. Another tornado damaged two houses southwest of Lansing. A third tornado damaged a boat and dock near Houghton Lake in Roscommon County.
8/8/1939 – A tornado outbreak across central and southern Lower Michigan resulted in two deaths and about 100 injuries. A violent tornado moved across the southeast part of Kalamazoo, destroying dozens of homes and killing two people. More homes were destroyed and six people were injured in northern Kent County, northeast of Cedar Springs.
8/10/1944 – The first half of August produces seven days in the 90s, peaking with a record high of 98 degrees at Grand Rapids and 95 at Muskegon on this date.
8/10/1972 – High pressure from Canada brings record low temperatures, including the 40 degrees at Lansing, 45 at Grand Rapids, and 47 at Muskegon.
8/14/1987 – A total of 3.61 inches of rain falls at Grand Rapids, making this the second wettest August day on record and contributing to a record monthly total of 8.46 inches.
8/16/1979 – High pressure from Canada brings record cold temperatures with Muskegon falling to 36 degrees, the coldest ever recorded there in August. At Grand Rapids it falls to 40 degrees and at Lansing 39.
8/18/1943 – Autumn is in the air with record cool temperatures of 41 degrees at Grand Rapids and 43 degrees at Muskegon.
8/22/1936 – The Dust Bowl summer of 1936 produced more record heat, with a high of 98 degrees at Grand Rapids and 94 at Lansing.
8/22/2001 – Severe weather and flooding hit Allegan, Ottawa and Kent Counties. Damaging winds hit Hudsonville, Plainwell, Dorr and Grand Rapids. Flooding occurred in eastern Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties where three to five inches of rain is estimated to have fallen in less than 6 hours. Several streets were closed by flooding in Oshtemo flooded. Some businesses had to pump water out of their stores in Kalamazoo during the height of the storms.
8/25/1940 – A stalled cold front brings clouds and very cool high temperatures. At Muskegon the high was only 56 degrees and Lansing was 57, both records for the coldest maximum temperatures for the month of August. The high of 60 degrees at Grand Rapids is only one degree higher than the record of 59 degrees set on August 26, 1987.
8/30/1976 – Grand Rapids falls to 39 degrees, the coldest ever recorded during the month of August. Scattered frost occurs in rural areas.