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Flooding in Michigan

On this page you learn what types of flooding are typical in the Michigan and how do you protect yourself, your family and your home. You will also find out more about the significant Michigan floods. Finally, you'll find links to NWS offices that provide forecast and safety information for Michigan as well as links to our partners who play a significant role in keeping you safe.

Flood Safety Home Page Turn Around Don't Drown Flood Safety Awareness Week Interactive Flood Map Types of flodding and associated risks NWS flood products forecasts and observations (AHPS) education and outreach partner agencies Flooding Navigation bar, hover for links Flood Safety Home Page Turn Around Don't Drown Flood Safety Awareness Week Interactive Flood Map Types of flodding and associated risks NWS flood products forecasts and observations (AHPS) education and outreach partner agencies Flood Safety Home Page Turn Around Don't Drown Flood Safety Awareness Week Interactive Flood Map Types of flodding and associated risks NWS flood products forecasts and observations (AHPS) education and outreach partner agencies Flood Safety Home Page Turn Around Don't Drown Flood Safety Awareness Week Interactive Flood Map Types of flodding and associated risks NWS flood products forecasts and observations (AHPS) education and outreach partner agencies Houses almost completely under water. Credit: Lansing State Journal file photo Flood Safety Home Page Turn Around Don't Drown Flood Safety Awareness Week Interactive Flood Map Types of flodding and associated risks NWS flood products forecasts and observations (AHPS) education and outreach partner agencies

Significant Michigan Floods
  • The Grand River Flood of 1904

    The Grand River Flood of 1904 impacted Central and Southern Lower Michigan. Flooding was most prevalent in the Grand, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, and River Raisin Basins. The flood flows (discharge) from this flood are still the highest associated with spring flooding since recordkeeping began. The floods were caused by rain, snowmelt, and frozen soil. Only one fatality occurred and no injuries were reported. Damage was estimated to be in excess of $2 million (in 1904 dollars). In Grand Rapids alone, 14,000 persons were displaced and flooding damaged 2,500 homes and 30 businesses. In Bay City, numerous dams were washed away while in Kalamazoo, a 2 square mile area was inundated.

    Women paddling boat down street in full length dress of time. Credit: State Archives


    Residents in old time dress paddling boats down a flooded town street. Credit: State Archives
    Residents in old time dress paddling boats down a flooded town street.
    Credit: State Archives

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  • The Lansing Area Flood of 1975

    The Lansing Area Flood of 1975 impacted South Central Lower Michigan. Near Williamston and East Lansing, 4-5 inches of rain fell on snow in 7 hours over saturated soils. In Lansing, over 4,600 homes were flooded. The flooding resulted in 3 deaths but no injuries were reported. Damage was estimated to be in excess of $50 million (1975 dollars).

    Houses almost completely under water. Credit: Lansing State Journal file photo
    Houses almost completely under water. Credit: Lansing State Journal file photo

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  • The Muskegon River Flood of 1986

    The Muskegon River Flood of 1986 impacted Central Lower Michigan. Flooding was most prevalent in the Muskegon, Little Muskegon, Pere Marquette, Chippewa, Cass and Tittabawassee River Basins. The greatest rainfall ranged from 8 to 13 inches with more than 10 inches of rain falling over 2 days within a 3,500 square mile area. This flood resulted in 6 deaths and 89 injuries. The flooding caused 11 dams to fail, flooded 30,000 homes, and made 3,600 miles of roadways impassable. Damage was estimated to be in excess of $500 million (1986 dollars). A 30-county area of the state was declared a Federal Disaster Area. The city of Vassar suffered extensive damage with a large portion of the central business district inundated by 8 feet of water for 3 days. Four primary road bridges and hundreds of secondary road bridges and culverts failed.

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  • The Dead River Flash Flood of 2003

    The Dead River Flash Flood of 2003 impacted Marquette County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the city of Marquette. On May 14, 2003, the earthen fuse plug spillway of the dam failed and released 9 billion gallons of water from Silver Lake Basin into the Dead River, which forced the evacuation of 1,800 people. While there were no fatalities, damage was estimated to be in excess of $100 million (2003 dollars). In the city of Marquette, 14 business and 20 homes were flooded. The Presque Isle Power Plant was flooded, which caused it to be shut down for several weeks. Power from this facility is used to supply electricity to two local mines, which had to be shut down, forcing the temporary layoff of approximately 1,100 workers.

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  • The Grand River Flood of 2013

    The Grand River Flood of 2013 impacted Southern Lower Michigan. Flooding was most prevalent in the Grand and Thornapple River Basins. No fatalities were reported. Over 1200 homes were flooded and high water closed over 300 roads. Record stages were set at 5 locations along the Grand River. Damage was estimated to be in excess of $43 million (2013 dollars).

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Flood Hazard Information
  • Flash Flooding

    Flash flooding is a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event (i.e., intense rainfall, dam failure, ice jam). More information...

  • River Flooding

    River flooding occurs when river levels rise and overflow their banks or the edges of their main channel and inundate areas that are normally dry. More information...
  • Coastal Flooding

    At any time of year, a storm from over the ocean can bring heavy precipitation to the U.S. coasts. Whether such a storm is tropical or not, prolonged periods of heavy precipitation can cause flooding in coastal areas, as well as further inland as the storm moves on shore. More information...

  • Ice/Debris Jams

    A back-up of water into surrounding areas can occur when a river or stream is blocked by a build-up of ice or other debris. Debris Jam: A back-up of water into surrounding areas can occur when a river or stream is blocked by a build-up of debris. More information...
  • Snowmelt

    Flooding due to snowmelt most often occurs in the spring when rapidly warming temperatures quickly melt the snow. The water runs off the already saturated ground into nearby streams and rivers, causing them to rapidly rise and, in some cases, overflow their banks.More information...
  • Dam Breaks/Levee Failure

    A break or failure can occur with little to no warning. Most often they are caused by water overtopping the structure, excessive seepage through the surrounding ground, or a structural failure. More information...
Protect Life and Property NWS Forecast Offices and River Forecast Centers (RFC) Covering Michigan