Weather Service Polls Southeast Michigan on Worst Disasters of Decade

National Weather Service asks Twitter followers to choose the top meteorological moments of 2010s. Finalists include floods, record temperatures, destructive winds and ice storms.

Extreme weather caused billions of dollars in damages across southeast Michigan over the last decade. As the 2010s come to a close, the National Weather Service is asking its Twitter followers to choose the most significant weather and climate events of the past ten years. 

NWS Meteorologist Rich Pollman says he and his co-workers at the Detroit-Pontiac office came up with 16 events, including the heavy rains that caused widespread flooding in August 2014.

“They were memorable for the amount of water that fell in a short amount of time across Metro Detroit,” Pollman says. “Unfortunately the dollar damage was almost $2 billion.”

Pat Batcheller
Pat Batcheller

Read summaries of each weather event here, and here’s a full list: 

  • March 15, 2012 Tornadoes including the EF3 Dexter Tornado
  • March 2012 Heat Wave 
  • April 2012 Freeze 
  • July 2012 Heat Wave and Drought 
  • October 29-30, 2012 Hurricane Sandy Great Lakes Storm
  • December 21-22, 2013 Ice Storm 
  • January 4-5 2014, Snowstorm 
  • Winter 2013-14 Cold and Snowy Winter 
  • August 11, 2014 Metro Detroit Floods
  • February 1, 2015 Snowstorm 
  • February 2015 Cold
  • March 8, 2017 High Wind 
  • April 13-15, 2018 Ice Storm 
  • January 29-February 1, 2019 Arctic Outbreak
  • 2019 Record High Water Levels on the Great Lakes
  • November 11, 2019 Veteran’s Day Snowstorm

To rank the events, Pollman says people can follow the National Weather Service Detroit office on Twitter and vote in a series of polls. 

“We’re limited to four responses on Twitter polls, but I think it was the best way to get the word out there to most of our followers.” — Rich Pollman, NWS meteorologist.

Pollman says there will be four polls. The winners of each will advance to a final round to determine the top event. After that, the weather service will create a “top 10” based on Twitter responses.

Nikki Roach / WDET
Nikki Roach / WDET

Click on the player to hear Pat Batcheller’s conversation with Rich Pollman and read a transcript, edited for clarity, below:

Pat Batcheller, 101.9 FM, WDET: Which weather events stood out in the 2010s?

Rich Pollman, National Weather Service: One that had the most dollar damage was the August 11, 2014 floods. They were memorable for the amount of water that fell in a short amount of time across Metro Detroit. Unfortunately the dollar damage was almost $2 billion. Some of the others include the Dexter EF3 tornado in 2012 and the record high water levels on the Great Lakes in 2019.

Jerome Vaughn
Jerome Vaughn

What were your criteria for choosing these 16 events?

Keeping track of all the weather events of the past decade, I had a list of 36. Our office team came up with the top 16 for the public to vote on. 

What set those 16 apart from the other events?

We had a blind vote among the forecast staff here. Those rankings got us to our top 16. I think it was a pretty good distribution of single events that had high impact in terms of dollar damage, while others were noteworthy for the meteorological conditions that caused them. It ended up being a pretty diverse group of weather and climate events.

How did you decide to use Twitter polls to rank these events?

We’re limited to four responses on Twitter polls, but I think it was the best way to get the word out there to most of our followers. We encourage anyone to follow us on Twitter. There’s a lot of good information there besides being able to vote on the top weather events. There will be five polls. The first four have begun. The top choices in those polls will give us the four finalists for the fifth poll just before Christmas. Once we know the top event, we’ll try to rank the rest of them. We’ll post that on our website, on Twitter, and our Facebook page.


  • Pat Batcheller
    Pat Batcheller is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news, traffic and weather updates during Morning Edition. He is an amateur musician.